This post will show you how to make authentic tteokbokki (or ddukbokki) at home. This detailed guide is full of tips and tricks, and a list of ingredients, to help you to be as successful as possible at making this popular Korean street food. Sweet, spicy, chewy rice cakes with homemade tteokbokki sauce—this dish is truly satisfying, and almost addictive!

Spicy Korean rice cakes (tteokbokki) is made with gochujang and served on a platter with toothpicks.

Having a dish full of spicy tteokbokki (떡볶이) recently in a busy Korean street market brought me a lot of nostalgia. These chewy rice cakes with gently sweet and spicy gochujang sauce…Mmmm! It was like a taste of my childhood.

I recently had a trip to Korea to visit my family. The two weeks of mandatory quarantine upon arrival was well worth the effort. After the quarantine was over, I was thrilled to go out and hit different places for meals. Enjoying Korean street food was no exception on my food adventure.

What is Tteokbokki?

Tteokbokki (떡볶이, often pronounces as topokki or ddukbokki) is a popular Korean street food made from small cylinder-shaped rice cakes called tteokbokki-tteok. Although the literal translation of the name means rice cake stir-fry, but the actual cooking relies on a simmering method.

White rice cakes are simmered in sweet and spicy gochujang based sauce. Korean chili power is often added to enhance the spiciness.

With all the popular Korean street food recipes, this tteokbokki recipe will be the easiest one you can try at home. Revive the taste of Korea in your kitchen!

If you want to know more about Korean snack dishes and foods from the street vendors, check out my cookbook, “Korean Cooking Favorites” in which I share several mouth watering recipes.

Korean rice cakes and fish cakes (tteokbokki) are made with gochujang in a skillet.

Many types of tteokbokki

Interestingly, people in Korea have different preferences when it comes to this popular dish. Of course, the main ingredients are pretty much the same: rice cakes!

  • Cheese tteokbokki – Add cheese to Korean rice cake has become a huge trend among young Korean people. You will often found tteokbokki with cheese in the menu of many tteokbokki restaurants.
  • Curry tteokbokki – Some people like to add a little bit of curry powder to their tteokbokki sauce to bring more flavor impact.
  • Buldak tteokbokki – If you like things very spicy, you can challenge this version, but be cautious! This extremely spicy version is not for everyone. The sauce is made from either the buldak instant ramen seasoning powder or adding the chili pepper extract called “capsaicin” for an extreme heat.
  • Goong joong tteokboki – This mild tteokbokki is made with soy sauce (no gochujnag) with added vegetables and beef. It is known as a royal palace tteokbokki where it was originally served to the royal families in an ancient time in Korea.
  • Girum tteokbokki – This particular ttoekbokki is pan-fried with oil and doesn’t have any gravy-like sauce. I have created a spin-off recipe, spicy Korean rice cakes with vegetables, from the pan-fried version to be more wholesome and meal-like with loads of veggies.
  • Gukmul tteokbokki – Some like their tteokbokki to be thin, in a puddle of soupy sauce – the name literally means soupy rice cakes because it resembles a rice cake soup.
  • Black bean ttoekbokki – Blackbean paste (Jjajang) is added in the sauce making it dark and smoky taste.

How spicy is tteokbokki

As the title says – “spicy rice cakes”, tteokbokki meant to be spicy, but the level of heat can be adjustable. The red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru) and gochujang used in making tteokbokki sauce is responsible for the spiciness. You can control the amount depending on your preference.

Furthermore, you can add cream or milk to tone down the spiciness since those dairy products help counteract the burning sensation triggered by the strong heat.

Tteokbokki Rice Cake (Tteok)

Gluten-free rice cakes are packed in a bag

When it comes to tteokbokki rice cake (tteokbokki tteok), look for a short stick shape. A finger size is the most common. Make sure they are made with 100% rice flour.

Some rice cakes are made with wheat flour, which works okay in most tteokbokki recipes, but they won’t carry the chewy texture that you are looking for.

You might find the flat and round rice cakes at the stores, too. But save those for rice cake soup or stir-fries.

Tteokbokki sauce recipe

What is tteokbokki sauce made of?

The sauce is a mixture of Korean red pepper paste (gochujang), Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), soy sauce and corn syrup (or sugar). Gochugaru adds extra spiciness and red color. You can omit it if you prefer milder taste.

The mixture is traditionally combined with anchovy stock to add umami flavor. You can replace the stock with water, but the overall taste will be bland.

Korean Syrup: Korean spicy rice cakes are a slightly sweet dish. However, you will find there’s no sugar in this recipe. Using the syrup will bring a shine to the finished dish and adds subtle sweetness without being too sweet. If you prefer not to use any syrup, then replace with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Ingredients for making tteokbokki (Korean spicy rice cakes) are displayed.

Recipe Success Tips

  1. Use anchovy stock: Anchovy stock adds the umami flavor to the dish and I highly recommend using it. Making anchovy stock is easy and takes only 5 minutes. I add a piece of dried sea kelp when I make anchovy stock, but you can omit the sea kelp if you don’t have it.
  2. Coarse chili flakes vs Fine chili powder: You can definitely use either of those. If you want to replicate the Korean street vendor style spicy rice cakes, I recommend using Korean fine chili powder. The finer texture blends better in the sauce and creates more luscious.

How to make find chili powder: If you only have the coarse Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), process it in a blender until very smooth and finely blended. You can skip this step if you want to, but you will see speckles of chili flakes on the rice cakes.

Korean chili flakes are processed in a blender to turn into fine chili powder.

Note: I blended 1/2 cup of chili flakes although I only need 1 tablespoon for this recipe. I want to keep the rest in the fridge to use later when I make tteokbokki again, and to spice up other dishes as well. Store the chili flakes in a glass jar and they will last for over a year if you keep them in the refrigerator.

Other Additions

  • Fish cake (eomuk): optional but recommended
  • Asian leek (daepa): You can replace it with green onion

Some like to add cabbage, onion, and garlic, but I like to keep it simple for the rice cake to stand out.

How to make tteokbokki

Korean rice cakes are soaking in water for making tteokbokki.

Step 1. Soak rice cakes in water

If your rice cakes have been hardened because they were stored in the refrigerator, soak them in water for 10 minute to soften them a little.

Some Korean or Asian stores carry freshly made rice cakes. Since they are very soft and ready to use, you don’t need to soak them in water prior to cooking.

Dried anchovies and sea kelp are simmered to make a stock.

Step 2. Make anchovy stock.

Simmer large dried anchovies with a piece of dried sea kelp in water for 5 minutes. Discard the anchovy and sea kelp and reserve the stock.

Fish cake sheets and Asian leek are sliced

Step 3. Prepare fish cakes and leeks (or green onions)

Fish cake sheets (eomuk, 어묵) and Asian leeks are commonly used in any tteokbokki recipe. They are optional but recommendable. You can also add diced cabbage and hard boiled eggs to make Korean rice cake dish hearty.

Rice cakes are added to the anchovy and gochujang sauce in a skillet to make tteokbokki.

Step 4. Mix rice cakes in tteokbokki sauce.

In a large skillet or wok, mix anchovy stock with chili paste, chili flakes and corn syrup. Add rice cakes that have been drained from soaking.

Fish cakes and leeks are added to simmering tteokbokki in a pan.

Step 5. Add fish cake and leek.

Add the fish cake and leek. Bring the whole thing to boil over medium high heat.

Tteokbokki is simmering in a pan until soft and chewy.

Step 6. Simmer everything until soft.

When the sauce boils up, reduce the heat to low and let the tteokbokki simmer until the rice cakes are tender and the sauce thickens. It should take about 5-7 minutes.

You will need to serve tteokbokki immediately. As it cools, the sauce will get thicken more and the rice cakes will harden.

And do you know that tteokbokki is often goes well with gimmari (Korean fried seaweed rolls)? Try it and you will see why local Korean street vendors always sell them together.

Using a toothpick is a common way of serving street style Korean rice cakes, tteokbokki.

How to reheat leftover tteokbokki

I highly recommend cooking the amount you can finish at the time of serving. However, if there are any leftovers, refrigerate them. Unfortunately reheating leftover tteokbokki in a microwave won’t bring the right texture. The best solution is to reheat them on a stove.

You will need extra anchovy sauce, about 1 cup, to do so. Add the stock to the leftover rice cake in a skillet and bring it to a gentle boil. Simmer until the rice cakes become tender, and the sauce has thickened again. Serve immediately.

More Korean street foods

If you love Korean street foods or Korean appetizers, you will like some of these recipes below:

This recipe was originally posted in April 2010. I’ve updated the recipe with a few changes, new photos, and more information.

Spicy Korean rice cakes (tteokbokki) is made with gochujang and served on a platter with toothpicks.

30 Minute Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cake)

This post will show you how to make authentic tteokbokki (or ddukbokki) at home. This detailed guide is full of tips and tricks, and a list of ingredients, to help you to be as successful as possible at making this popular Korean street food. Sweet, spicy, chewy rice cakes with homemade tteokbokki sauce—this dish is truly satisfying, and almost addictive!
5 from 2 ratings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rice cake
  • 1-2 sheet fish cake, sliced, optional
  • 1 Asian leek or 3 green onion, sliced
  • 2 heaping tbsp Korean chili paste (gochujang)
  • 1 tbsp Korean fine chili powder (gochugaru), optional, see note below
  • 2-3 tbsp Korean corn syrup (mulyeot) or rice syrup, or 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

For anchovy stock

Instructions 

  • Soak rice cakes in a bowl of water for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile make the anchovy stock. Combine dried anchovies, sea kelp, and water in a pot. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Discard the anchovy and sea kelp and reserve 2-1/2 cups of stock. Save the rest of stock for a later use.
  • In a large skillet, combine anchovy stock, chili paste, chili powder (if using), syrup, and soy sauce; mix well.
  • Drain the rice cakes from the soaking water and add to the stock mixture. Add the fish cake and leek slices. Bring them to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the rice cakes are tender and the sauce has thickened; about 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately

Notes

Korean chili flakes: If you only have coarse Korean chili flakes instead of fine powder. You can use a blender to process the Korean chili flakes into very smooth powder. In order to do so, use about 1/2 cup of Korean chili flakes to process in a blender. Use a desired amount for the recipe, and store the rest in the refrigerator for a later use.
Calories: 493kcal, Carbohydrates: 105g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 338mg, Potassium: 420mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 966IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 43mg, Iron: 3mg
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