Make classic tteokbokki, the spicy Korean rice cake dish, at home in just 20 minutes! This Korean street food favorite is easy to make with a full list of ingredients and helpful tips. Chewy rice cakes coated in homemade tteokbokki sauce is truly satisfying and almost addictive.

Tteokbokki (Korean spicy rice cakes) made with gochujang

My recent journey through a lively Korean street market, indulging in spicy tteokbokki, was a vivid flashback to my childhood. The chewy rice cakes drenched in a tangy, slightly sweet, and spicy gochujang sauce reminded me of my younger days.

During a visit to Korea to reconnect with my family, my post-quarantine adventures led me to savor diverse local flavors, including the acclaimed Korean street foods.

Tteokbokki, Korean street food spicy rice cakes in a skillet.

What is Tteokbokki?

A beloved dish in Korean cuisine, tteokbokki (떡볶이), often referred to as topokki or ddukbokki, is a spicy Korean rice cakes dish with flavorful concoction of cylindrical rice cakes.

Despite its direct translation – rice cake stir-fry – the cooking method primarily involves simmering these rice cakes in a gochujang-based sauce, often spiced up with gochugaru (Korean chili powder).

Different Varieties of Tteokbokki

Koreans love experimenting with tteokbokki. While the core remains the rice cakes (tteok), here are some trending versions:

  • Rose tteokbokki – A visually alluring twist, this version combines gochujang with cream, reflecting a modern culinary trend.
  • Buldak tteokbokki – A dare for spice lovers, this variant draws its heat from buldak instant ramen seasoning or potent chili pepper extract, capsaicin.
  • Gungjung tteokboki – A milder version featuring soy sauce, veggies, and beef, historically served to Korean royalty.
  • Gireum tteokbokki – This particular spicy pan-fried rice cake is with oil and doesn’t have any gravy-like sauce.
  • Rabokki: Combine the best of both worlds with a fusion of instant noodles and Tteokbokki.

Essential Ingredients

Rice Cakes (Tteok):

Tteok, gluten-free rice cakes, as a min ingredient for Korean tteokbokki recipe.

For the best spicy Korean rice cake experience, opt for short, finger-sized rice cakes crafted from 100% rice flour to ensure the best flavor and chewiness.

You may also find flat and round rice cakes at the stores, but these are better suited for Korean rice cake soup or stir-fries rather than dishes that require chewy tteok.

Tteokbokki Sauce:

Ingredients for making tteokbokki (Korean spicy rice cakes)

The sauce’s heart comprises Korean red pepper paste (gochujang), Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), soy sauce, and corn syrup. The sauce gains depth from anchovy stock, imparting an umami touch.

For the characteristic gloss and subtle sweetness, Korean Corn Syrup is the secret ingredient, but if unavailable, a tablespoon of sugar works wonders.

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.

Recipe Success Tips

  1. Anchor the dish’s umami depth with Anchovy stock, and consider adding dried sea kelp.
  2. For a richer texture, opt for fine gochugaru (Korean fine chili powder). If you only have coarse gochugaru, grind it until finely blended. Storing extra in the fridge extends its shelf life up to a year.

How to make find chili powder: If you only have the coarse 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.

How to Make Tteokbokki

Korean rice cakes (tteok) are soaking in water to prior of making tteokbokki.

Step 1. Preparation

If your rice cakes are refrigerated, soak them in water for 10 minutes. Fresh ones from Asian stores are ready to use.

Cook’s Note: 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.

Anchovy stock made with dried anchovies and sea kelp.

Step 2. Anchovy Stock

Simmer dried anchovies and dried sea kelp in water for 5 minutes. Strain and keep the stock.

Fish cake sheets and Asian leek as additional ingredients for tteokbokki

Step 3. Fish Cakes and Veggies

Prepare fish cakes, leeks, or green onions, which enhance the dish. Additions like cabbage or boiled eggs make the dish heartier.

Tteokbokki sauce and anchovy stock added to rice cakes in a skillet

Step 4. Sauce Mixing

In a skillet, combine the anchovy stock, chili paste, chili flakes, and corn syrup. Introduce the soaked rice cakes.

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

Step 5. Adding Fish Cakes

Stir in the fish cake and leeks, and let the mixture boil on medium-high heat.

Tteokbokki simmering in a pan until soft and chewy.

Step 6. Simmer

Once boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer until the rice cakes are tender, and the sauce thickens—approximately 5-7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Pairing tteokbokki with gimmari (Korean fried seaweed rolls) is a match made in heaven. Discover why they’re a staple duo in Korean street food!

Tteokbokki recipe finished cooking in a skillet.

Reheating Tip

Tteokbokki is best enjoyed fresh. If reheating is necessary, stove-top reheating with extra anchovy stock is recommended over microwaving. Simmer until the rice cakes regain their tenderness, and the sauce thickens. Serve immediately.

Your Korean Rice Cakes Experience?

Have you tried making Tteokbokki at home? What variations did you experiment with? Share your stories in the comments below!

More Popular Korean Foods

Looking for more famous Korean recipes? Don’t miss out these dishes below. All are easy to prepare in your home kitchen:

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.

Classic Tteokbokki: 20-Minute Korean Spicy Rice Cakes

Make classic Tteokbokki in 20 minutes with this easy Korean spicy rice cake recipe! Perfect for all skill levels, and savor authentic street food flavors at home.
5 from 7 ratings

Ingredients

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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