Spicy, sweet, savoury and chewy rice cakes swimming in a vibrant red sauce coloured by chilli paste, are a famous Korean street food snack. Tteokbokki (with a few spelling iterations) has three main components: rice cakes, sauce and add-ins such as fish cakes or boiled eggs.
Traditionally, the rice cakes are made using short-grain rice, ground and steamed then shaped into finger-sized cylinders. The result is a comforting soft and chewy texture.
Tteokbokki can be a little hard to find outside the CBD, so if you’re far from a reliable Korean grocer or just have a craving and don’t feel like driving I’ve got a solution: rice paper rolls.
You can make your own tteokbokki by wetting a standard sheet of dried rice paper and rolling it up tight without any filling. If you feel like adding an extra layer of Korean comfort, roll a slice of American cheese into the future rice cake for sticky-melty good times. Before you get upset about the processed nature of the cheese, it’s worth mentioning that America has had a long military presence in South Korea which has heavily influenced its cuisine: processed cheese and Spam included.
Anyway, these come out with a pleasantly soft and chewy texture very similar to the real thing. The only catch is they are translucent and not white, but they still do the job.
How to make rice paper tteokbokki
For the tteokbokki, take:
- 6 sheets rice paper
- 2 slices processed cheese (optional)
Dip the rice paper into a bowl of warm water and place them on a cutting board or large plate and allow to soften briefly. Fold two opposing sides in to meet in the middle, then from the short end tightly roll it up into a cigar shape.
For the cheese-filled version place the slice of cheese in the centre of the rice paper, then fold the sides in and roll up as usual.
Once your tteokbokki is done, set aside. In a small frying pan or shallow pot add:
- 1 cup dashi or vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp gochujang
- Fish cakes or fish balls, as you like
Bring to a simmer and dissolve the gochujang/warm the fish cakes, then place your tteokbokki in and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened, and sauce thickens slightly. Garnish with sliced spring onions.
If you like it spicy you can add gochugaru chilli flakes, to taste.
Just to note, traditionally a Korean anchovy broth is used in place of dashi, but I opted for dashi as powdered stock can be purchased at select supermarkets. Gochujang is also becoming more frequently available at some major supermarkets.
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