In Korea, you can find ddukbokki/tteokbokki in many different places and also served in many different ways. There are even restaurants that serve just different kinds of ddukbokki which are called 떡볶이 집 (“ddukbokki jip” which means House of Ddukbokki). These places serve ddukbokki with different sauces and with different choices of noodles (쫄면 Jjol myun or 라면 ramen for example). Ddukbokki is also sold on street carts where often times you find the best tasting ones and for many Korean kids, it’s their most favorite after school snack on their way home. The recipe listed here is based on a 즉석떡볶이 (jeuksuk (instant) ddukbokki ) version where restaurants serve it hot pot style, on top of a portable gas stove and cooked right at your table. I didn’t cook it at the table in the pictures you see here but I have definitely cooked it in an electric hot pot at home before and it’s great fun for the whole family.
Prep time: 5 min. Cooking time: 20 min Servings: 3-4 Difficulty: Easy
- 16 oz rice cake for ddukbokki
- 2 sheets of Korean rectangular fish cake (사각오뎅 Sahgahk Oden), cut into squares
- 2 C cabbage, cut into strips or 1 in squares
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1 T chopped garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3 C water (or anchovy stock is even better)
- 2 T + 1 tsp (for extra spicy) gochujang (spicy red bean paste)
- 1 T sugar
- 1 T soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- dash of black pepper
- 1 tsp ketchup (optional)
- 1 tsp gook kanjang (Korean soy sauce for soups – optional)
- Other optional vegetables
- 1-2 green onions, cut into 2 in long pieces
- 2-3 perilla leaves, cut into thin strips
1. If the ddukbokki dduk is frozen, defrost in cold water while you prepare other ingredients. The type of rice cakes used for ddukbokki are shaped like little logs but you can also use the thin ovalettes used for Dduk Gook. They are all the same dduk but just cut differently.
2. Cut cabbage, carrots and onions and any other vegetables. Korean fish cake (어묵 Uhmook also called 오뎅(oden) which comes from Japanese) comes in various shapes but the ones normally used here is one that comes in thin rectanglular sheets (사각오뎅 Sahgahk Oden). They can be found in the freezer aisle in most Korean markets. I did not get to take a picture of the package but there usually isn’t a whole lot of difference among the different brands so buy whatever looks good to you.
3. Get a saute pan deep enough to hold all the ingredients. Non stick is easier since the dduk tends to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add water or anchovy stock, carrots, cabbage and onions to the pan and bring to a boil.
4. Add gochujang, garlic, soy sauce, salt and sugar to this mixture while you wait for it to boil.
5. Once it starts to boil, add dduk, fish cake and stir. Simmer for 20 min. stirring occasionally to make sure the dduk doesn’t burn at the bottom. Taste a piece of the dduk when it’s close to 20 min and adjust your seasonings. Don’t taste it in the beginning because the seasoning will not have fully penetrated into the dduk yet and it will taste very bland. Add ketchup to add that little extra something at the end. Sprinkle some black pepper.
What other things can I add to ddukbokki?
- Ramen noodles – you can add ramen noodles directly into the ddukbokki while it is cooking. However, this is a bit risky for 2 reasons – the noodles soak up the liquid very quickly so you will have to keep adding extra water; it’s very easy to overcook the noodles which makes the whole dish into one giant blob of dduk… SO… I recommend that you boil the ramen noodles separately in water (make sure you cook it al dente) and then just mix it in quickly at the very end.
- Jjol Myun (쫄면) – this noodle is very stringy, chewy and adds great texture to the dish. Add this when you add the dduk and it should cook together nicely. You will need extra water for this too.
- Boiled eggs – make some hard boiled eggs and add it to the ddukbokki. The savory, spicy sauce goes very well with the egg.
Why doesn’t the ddukbokki taste like the ones I eat at restaurants or on the street?
- MSG… – if you really want to get that taste, you will have to add some MSG or some variation of that like dashida(다시다).
- ramen soup powder – another way to get a similar taste is to sprinkle some ramen soup powder (which has MSG) on your ddukbokki.
- My niece MJ recently told me about a variation where you roast the dduk in an iron skillet first before cooking it in the sauce. Adds additional crunchy texture and some smoky flavor which I’m sure will only make it better. In Korea, around New Year’s, when you have dduk coming out of your ears, one way to eat the freshly made dduk is to roast them over open fire and then eat them with some sugar sprinkled on top.