This tteokbokki recipe is the simplest and quickest Korean spicy rice cake recipe that’s still just as good as any other more complicated recipe. This is what I used to make for myself when I was in high school as my late-night snack and oh it’s Vegan too!
About Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes)
Tteokbokki 떡뽁이 means ‘Sauteed or stir-fried Korean rice cake‘ and is a very popular Korean street food that you will see more often in the winter. You will see chewy cylindrical rice cakes simmering in spicy thick sweet gochujang sauce. Btw, Tteokbokki is also often spelled as ddukbokki, topokki, dukbokki and ddeokbokki.
There are actually quite a few different variations depending on whether it’s spicy vs non-spicy, whether it’s cooked at the table or not, whether it’s soupy or not, and what kind of additional ingredients it has. The non-spicy version is called Gungjung Tteokbokki 궁중 떡뽁이 (Royal Tteokbokki) which is the first original version and was served at the palace for many years before the spicy version appeared in the Shindangdong area of Seoul. You can check out my recipe HERE.
Jeukseok Tteokbokki 즉석 떡뽁이 refers to the versions where the Korean rice cakes come in a shallow pan on a table to burner with fish cake, vegetables like green cabbage, carrots, green onions, gochujang sauce and broth in an uncooked state and then it’s cooked at the table. Btw, jeukseok means ‘instant’ or ‘right away’. You can also usually ask for extra noodles to be added and they are either the very chewy Jjolmyeon noodles or Ramyeon noodles.
Gukmul Tteokbokki 국물 떡뽁이 is a soupy version of spicy Korean rice cakes where the rice cakes usually are served in a bowl with a lot of Gukmul (broth) but other than that it’s really nothing different. It’s usually served with just the soupy sauce and tteok but usually no vegetables or fish cake.
Besides these, the more recent addition is Cheese Tteokbokki where Koreans now add a very mild mozzarella like stringy cheese on top of the dish and the kids love it! There’s also Rose Tteokbokki where you add cream to it and thus the color of the sauce is lighter like a rose color rather than bright red.
So this spicy Korean rice cake is a very minimal version that doesn’t include any other ingredients like vegetables or noodles and also doesn’t contain garlic. But I love it because it’s kind of pure in its taste.
UPDATE NOTES 11/8/2022
As I was updating this recipe, I realized that this is actually a Vegan Tteokbokki version but when I first wrote this recipe way back when, vegan was really not something many people talked about and so it was just not in my mind and never even mentioned in the post.JinJoo
What does Tteokbokki taste like?
The Tteokbokki tteok itself really doesn’t have a lot of flavors as it’s just made from short-grain rice but has a wonderful chewy but soft texture. The tteokbokki sauce is basically a gochujang sauce which will have wonderful umami flavors. you can also add gochugaru (chili powder), usually some sweetener like sugar or syrup and some garlic. The broth is usually made from anchovy and/or kelp stock so the tteokbokki sauce will have a complex mix of umami-packed funky, spicy, garlicky and sweet flavors.
Having said that, this particular Tteokbokki version is a minimalistic version without a lot of different seasonings and doesn’t even include garlic. I wasn’t going to post this because it’s something I just made up in high school, but I realized this may be the perfect recipe for college students or young people out there who really don’t have the time or have all the ingredients to make a full version.
So this recipe just needs 4 seasoning ingredients – Gochujang, soy sauce, sugar and sesame seeds, which you may think is too simple but sometimes simple is just simply good. 😉
Where can I buy rice cakes for tteokbokki?
First, you need to learn about the different kinds of tteok that are used in Korean cooking. There’s tteokguk tteok (oval rice cake slices for rice cake soup) which taste the same in both flavor and texture as the tteokbokki tteok but it’s just a different shape and is not typically used for this recipe. But, you can certainly use it if you can’t find the smaller thinner tteokbokki tteok that you see below.
You can buy Korean rice cakes for tteokbokki from Korean grocery stores and it should be either in the refrigerated section or in the freezer. If you live near a big Korean population, you may be lucky enough to see a freshly made rice cake cylinders like below on a shelf and that would be the BEST one to buy if you can.
Why does my Tteok (rice cake) all split when cooked?
Here’s a pic of a freshly made, never frozen, moist rice cakes and then dry, old, cracked rice cakes below. If rice cakes are frozen or defrosted too many times, they can end up with cracks in them.
Ok, now let’s get started making my very simple 5-ingredient Vegan Spicy Korean Rice Cakes!
- If you want to add more umami flavor to this dish, make a Kelp broth by simmering a piece of kelp in water for 20 min and use that instead of water.
- Make it GLUTEN FREE – use GF gochujang and soy sauce to make it Vegan and Gluten Free
Vegan Tteokbokki – Spicy Rice Cake Recipe
Servings: 1 Cooking Time: 15 min Difficulty: EASY
Step by Step Directions
1. 1 cup rice cake weighs about 5-6 oz. If your tteok/dduk is frozen, defrost by soaking in cold water for a few minutes and drain.
2. Add water (or kelp broth), gochujang and sugar to a pan and bring to a boil on medium high heat. I forgot to stir before taking this picture but yes.. you should stir it at some point before it boils. 🙂 Reduce gochujang for less spicy version.
3. Add the tteokbokki tteok to the gochujang water. Add 1 tsp soy sauce and lower the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
And it should look something like this:
There you go! That’s it!! This tteokbokki will probably taste a bit different from the ones you may have tasted before but you should definitely give this a try. It has a very simple, clean, spicy and sweet taste that’s quite addicting.
Oh and you may wonder..these tteok look like they have cracks in them! Yes, I bought these on purpose to show on this post. But I couldn’t just throw them away so I used them in this recipe…
Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if you’d like and even a swirl of sesame oil.
Fish cake (oden) soup or yache twigim are perfect compliments to this if you want to make this into a complete dinner good enough to have friends over.
More Tteokbokki Recipes
Vegan Tteokbokki – Spicy Korean Rice Cakes
- 1 cup rice cake (dduk/tteok) for tteokbokki(떡볶이)
- 2 tsp korean spicy bean paste (고추장 gochujang)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 3/4 cup water
- sesame seeds (optional)
- sesame oil optional
- 1 cup rice cake is about 5-6 oz. If your tteok/dduk is frozen, defrost by soaking in cold water for a few minutes and drain.
- Add water, gochujang and sugar to a pan and bring to a boil on medium high heat.
- Add the tteokbokki tteok to the gochujang water and lower the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until broth is reduced and sauce is thick.
- For extra flavor, sprinkle some sesame seeds and/or swirl of sesame oil.
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