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Tteokbokki Recipe – Korean Spicy Rice Cake Stir Fry

22/05/2020 (Last Updated: 01/12/2020)

This fiery Korean Tteokbokki recipe features a quick and easy sauce base you can make in less than 10 minutes! We’ll simmer chewy cakes in a spicy sauce of gochujang and dashi stock in this addictive and satisfying homemade street food recipe.

Bowl of spicy Korean rice cake stew with boiled eggs, chopsticks and pinch bowls of sesame seeds and Korean chilli flakes.

Why We Love This

Tteokbokki is surprisingly easy to make at home. The stock base is made from powdered dashi stock (rather than homemade dashi), so you can make it in minutes.

It has a distinctive flavour and spicy kick from classic Korean ingredients like gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes) and gochujang paste. It’s also easy to modify the recipe to suit your taste preferences, or add extra ingredients to make it go even further.

Top down view of tteokbokki showing chewy rice cakes and boiled eggs.

What is Korean Tteokbokki? 

Tteokbokki (sometimes romanised as dukbokki) is a popular street food dish in Korea. It’s a spicy dish of chewy rice cakes stir fried in a thick chilli sauce made from a base of seaweed and/or fish stock and gochujang chilli paste.

You’ll usually find it at bunsikjip (snack bars) or pojangmacha (street stalls) where it’s stir fried in big batches and served with eomuk fish cakes, scallions/green onions and boiled eggs. If you’re fortunate enough to try some in Korea, it’s cheap, flavourful and filling, perfect as a spicy snack or lunch while exploring the city.

While you could make your own fish stock base, we recommend using powdered stock (known as yuksu in Korean or dashi in Japanese). It saves time, tastes just as good, and transforms this dish into an easy weeknight meal!

Where We Learned This Recipe

We first came across this fiery dish while roaming the streets of Nampodong in Busan, South Korea. This place is MADE for food lovers – you can literally spend hours here just wandering and eating and shopping. So, naturally, it was an irresistible lure for two hungry Wandercooks!

We knew the minute we found the tteokbokki hot spot. A warm, spicy aroma filled the air as vendor after vendor worked at massive hot plates, stir frying long cylindrical rice cakes in the rich, red tteokbokki sauce. Some vendors served theirs with boiled eggs thrown into the mix, others with green onions, slices of eomuk fish cakes and seafood.

What You’ll Need

We’e listed the essential ingredients, how to find them, and their substitutes below. You’ll also need a couple of basic staples including soy sauce, raw sugar and sesame oil, plus some boiled eggs and green onions to serve (optional).

  • Tteok / Rice Cakes – You can use the long cylinder-shaped rice cakes known as garae-tteok, or flat rice cakes sliced diagonally. It’s more common to use the cylinders, but the flat rice cakes will taste just as good. The best place to look for them is the fridge or freezer section of Korean convenience stores or Asian groceries, but you can also find them dried. Dried rice cakes will need to be soaked for around 3 hours (or overnight) before using.
  • Gochujang – One of the key ingredients to the dish, find out more about it in our gochugang guide. Regular gochujang has more of a tomato / sweet taste than chilli heat, although you can buy an extra hot version if you prefer. We’ve found these at regular supermarkets, Asian groceries or online. Note that the level of heat can vary depending on the style or brand of gochujang that you buy. If you’re unsure, start with a small amount and build it up from there. If you can’t source gochujang, you can substitute (per tbsp) with 1 tbsp of red pepper flakes blended with 2 tsp of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. The flavour won’t be as complex, but it should get you through.
  • Gochugaru / Korean Red Pepper Flakes – Find it at Asian grocers and online, where it may also be labelled as hot pepper powder. These seem to have more flavour and less heat than regular chilli flakes. To substitute, use half the amount of cayenne pepper or regular chilli powder.
  • Dashi Stock – this gives the unique umami flavour to the dish. There are two styles you can use as the base for this recipe: 1) Konbu dashi – less intense seaweed based flavour. OR 2) Katsuo dashi – intense anchovy kick. For the best flavour we recommend the stronger anchovy version. The smell is strong while cooking, but doesn’t taste “fishy” in the final dish – instead it gives the dish a mouth-watering umami kick. Feel free to choose the right style for your tastes, or substitute with vegetable or chicken stock if you prefer. 
Tub of Korean Gochujang Chilli Paste.
Check out our guide for 15 Amazing Ways to Use Gochujang!

How to Make Tteokbokki:

  1. Add water dashi stock powder to a wok or large frypan and bring to the boil. Add in the gochujang paste, red chilli flakes, sugar and soy sauce and stir into a luscious, fragrant soup.
  2. Pop in the rice cakes and green onion and bring back to the boil, then simmer for around 10 minutes until the rice cakes have softened, stirring frequently so they don’t stick to the bottom. You’ll know it’s done when the sauce becomes thick and glossy and the rice cakes are nicely chewy (go on, test one, you know you want to!). If the rice cakes aren’t soft enough, add in a little more water and continue to cook until ready.
  3. Just before serving, pour in the sesame oil and give it a good stir. Garnish with more sliced green onion, then serve piping hot and delicious!

Wandercook’s Tips

  • If your rice cakes are frozen, soak them in boiling water for a few minutes before cooking to defrost. Dried rice cakes will need to be soaked for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight, or you can speed up the process by soaking in boiling water for 10-20 minutes before cooking.
  • Have leftover gochujang? There’s plenty of delicious ways to use it up!

FAQs

How spicy is Tteokbokki?

Traditionally tteokbokki is quite a spicy dish! We’ve toned our recipe down slightly, but if you need to reduce the spice even further you can cut back on the chilli flakes and/or gochujang.

How can I make the sauce nice and thick?

The trick is to cook the sauce on low to medium heat and be patient! If it’s still not thickening up, try adding a cornflour slurry of 1 tsp cornflour to 2 tsp cold water and mix it through.

How should I reheat tteokbokki?

The best way to reheat tteokbokki is in a pan or wok on the stove rather than in the microwave. Add a little extra water or stock and stir gently over low heat until warmed through. This will help stop the rice cakes becoming too mushy.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Make Rabokki – Add ramen noodles or instant noodles.
  • Protein – Try it with chicken, thinly sliced pork, seafood (shrimp, squid, fish cakes), or spam sausages similar to Korean Army Stew.
  • Cheese – Sprinkle with cheddar or top with cheese slices and bake or broil for a minute or two until the cheese is melted.
  • Veggies – Add chopped cabbage, bok choy, broccolini, red bell pepper / capsicum or kimchi.
Bowl of tteokbokki with boiled eggs, chopsticks and pinch bowls of sesame seeds and Korean chilli flakes.

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Bowl of Tteokbokki with boiled eggs and chopsticks.

Tteokbokki Recipe – Korean Spicy Rice Cake Stir Fry

This fiery Korean Tteokbokki recipe features a quick and easy sauce base you can make in less than 10 minutes! We'll simmer chewy cakes in a spicy sauce of gochujang and dashi stock in this addictive and satisfying homemade street food recipe.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Korean
Servings: 2
Calories: 326kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $10

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Add water dashi stock powder to a wok or large frypan and bring to the boil. Add in the gochujang paste, red chilli flakes, sugar and soy sauce and stir into a luscious, fragrant soup.
  • Pop in the rice cakes and green onion and bring back to the boil, then simmer for around 10 minutes until the rice cakes have softened, stirring frequently so they don't stick to the bottom. You'll know it's done when the sauce becomes thick and glossy and the rice cakes are nicely chewy (go on, test one, you know you want to!). If the rice cakes aren’t soft enough, add in a little more water and continue to cook until ready.
  • Just before serving, pour in the sesame oil and give it a good stir. Garnish with more sliced green onion, then serve piping hot and delicious!

Video

Recipe Notes

Tips to get this recipe just right:
  • Tteok / Rice Cakes – You can use the long cylinder-shaped rice cakes known as garae-tteok, or flat rice cakes sliced diagonally. It’s more common to use the cylinders, but the flat rice cakes will taste just as good. The best place to look for them is the fridge or freezer section of Korean convenience stores or Asian groceries. If frozen – soak them in boiling water for a few minutes before cooking to defrost. If dried – soak them for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight, or you can speed up the process by soaking in boiling water for 10-20 minutes before cooking.
  • Gochujang – One of the key ingredients to the dish, find out more about it in our gochugang guide. Regular gochujang has more of a tomato / sweet taste than chilli heat, although you can buy an extra hot version if you prefer. We’ve found these at regular supermarkets, Asian groceries or online. Note that the level of heat can vary depending on the style or brand of gochujang that you buy. If you’re unsure, start with a small amount and build it up from there. If you can’t source gochujang, you can substitute (per tbsp) with 1 tbsp of red pepper flakes blended with 2 tsp of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. The flavour won’t be as complex, but it should get you through. P.S. If you have leftover gochujang, there’s plenty of delicious ways to use it up!
  • Gochugaru / Korean Red Pepper Flakes – Find it at Asian grocers and online, where it may also be labelled as hot pepper powder. These seem to have more flavour and less heat than regular chilli flakes. To substitute, use half the amount of cayenne pepper or regular chilli powder.
  • Dashi Stock – this gives the unique umami flavour to the dish. There are two styles you can use as the base for this recipe: 1) Konbu dashi – less intense seaweed based flavour. OR 2) Katsuo dashi – intense anchovy kick. For the best flavour we recommend the stronger anchovy version. The smell is strong while cooking, but doesn’t taste “fishy” in the final dish – instead it gives the dish a mouth-watering umami kick. Feel free to choose the right style for your tastes, or substitute with vegetable or chicken stock if you prefer. 
  • Make Rabokki – Add ramen noodles or instant noodles.
  • Add Protein – Try it with chicken, thinly sliced pork, seafood (shrimp, squid, fish cakes), or spam sausages similar to Korean Army Stew.
  • Add Cheese – Sprinkle with cheddar or top with cheese slices and bake or broil for a minute or two until the cheese is melted.
  • Add Veggies – Add chopped cabbage, bok choy, broccolini, red bell pepper / capsicum or kimchi.

Nutrition

Calories: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 354mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 388IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Tteokbokki Recipe - Korean Spicy Rice Cake Stir Fry

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Milica Vladova
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    Oh, I need to make this recipe. I hope I can find these Korean rice cakes in my country.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Fingers crossed you can – they are delish! If not, you could always try substituting with regular rice noodles. The texture will of course be different, but you can still enjoy all that delicious flavour. Hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    Tatiana
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    Thank you for the wonderful receipe and the beautiful photography! Awesome recipe, I’ll sure try making it during this week! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Ooh yay can’t wait to hear what you think! 🙂

  • Reply
    Farah
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    Never heard of this before and I feel I was missing out on so much! These sound addictive!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Love making tasty new discoveries, there’s always something new to try!

  • Reply
    Jo Allison
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    I love discovering new dishes so thanks for sharing this delicious Korean recipe! The flavours here sound fantastic and as I’ve never cooked with rice cakes I’m really keen to try it!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Oh fantastic Jo, hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    Mikayla
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    I love eating food like this but always get nervous making it myself, but this recipe makes me feel like I can! I love spicy korean food so this is going to be a favorite for sure!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      I know what you mean Mikalya! This one is a goody because the ingredients are so simple and quick to pull together. Glad we could help, we’d love to hear how you go with this one! 🙂

  • Reply
    Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    I’m so not confident when it comes to Korean food but looks like you’ve got it sussed! Great recipe!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Good luck Emma – hope you enjoy your new flavour adventures.

  • Reply
    Jayasri
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    Something new I have learnt today, very interesting recipe bookmarked and love to try it out. Lovely clicks

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Thanks Jayasri, hope you enjoy.

  • Reply
    Luci
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    Spice is totally the best thing for tastebuds 😉 I’ve just added Korean rice cakes, katsuo dashi stock powder and gochujang to my “if I see them” shopping list, because we don’t have a store nearby! Saved the recipe and ready to go as soon as I do stumble across some though!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Great, fingers crossed you can get your hands on some of those tasty ingredients – you won’t regret it. P.S. Totally agree – nothing like a spicy meal to awaken the senses hahah. 😛

  • Reply
    Mica @ Let's Taco Bout It Blog
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    Try saying Tteokbokki ten times fast. :p I would love to make this! I’ve never made a recipe with rice cakes before so I’m really excited to give this recipe a shot! What sides would you recommend I try with this?

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Haha we did – the good news is it’s MUCH easier to eat Tteokbokki it is to say. 😛 Being a popular street food snack it’s not often served with sides, but that said you could definitely make a feast out of it with a side of Korean Doenjang Guk (aka Miso Soup) and crunchy spicy Korean pickles. If you still haven’t had enough chilli, then don’t forget to have some Kimchi too!

  • Reply
    Dahn @savor the Best
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    Oh my goodness this looks awesome, you are so right I need this and I am going to have to make it. There is an Asian supermarket near me, I definitely want to try it with the rice cakes. Yum

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Excellent news, hope you enjoy wandering those aisles as much as we do! 😉

  • Reply
    Cristie | Little Big H
    22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

    This so appeals to me, I love all of these flavours and the rice cakes have me intrigued. I’ve never cooked with them before! Adding this to my list of things to make asap…

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/05/2020 at 10:36 am

      Please do! But be warned, those chewy rice cakes are totally addictive. 😉

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