How to Cook Rice Cakes

Many of us would like to know how to cook Korean rice cakes. It would seem that this popular Korean food item involves barely anything but covering cooked rice cakes with a spicy orange-red sauce. Rice cakes are a street food but can be eaten as a casual meal or snack. They can be prepared with meat or you can make a vegetarian meal out of them. They are enjoyable however you make them and easy to prepare, and they can end up tasting just like the ones found in Korean restaurants.

Tteokbokki served with hardboiled egg

Tteokbokki, Spicy Rice Cakes

Tteokbokki is a favorite Korean rice-cake dish which can have many adaptations and they come with an history. Tteokbokki translates as stir-fried rice cake and it is served hot and spicy. The dish itself was created as far back as the 1950’s in Korea and has been enjoyed worldwide over since then. The chewy rice cakes are mixed with a spicy sauce and they immediately became popular because these rice cakes are an affordable comfort food.

How Spicy Is Tteokbokki

Generally speaking, Korean rice cakes are a fairly spicy dish. You may need to eat this meal with a glass of water next to you, but this is also a good quality because it means that it teams up well with an ice-cold beer. This dish is not just spicy though, it is tasty too, even if its traditional heat levels are high which is amazing news for spice lovers. It is also possible to tone down a Korean rice cake to reduce the spice even further if you cut back on some of the hotter ingredients usually added to the dish.

garae dduk

How To Cook Rice Cakes

Korean rice cakes are oblong rice flour tubes, and you will be able to pick them up at your local Asian grocery store in the refrigerator section where the refrigerated noodles are. A little like dried pasta, they will be opaque in color and hard, but as soon as they are cooked, the hardness of the rice cake will soon soften, and you will be left with a chewy bite. Some people will want to make tteok from scratch, but when making homemade Tteokbokki it is much easier and less time consuming to just buy the tteok.

rice cakes for soup

All you need to do with rice cakes before you cook with them is soak them in hot water for half an hour first. Soaking them first helps to remove some of the starch from the rice cakes before you go on to cook them. It will not take too long for them to cook all the way through once they are added to your other ingredients, so you will soon be removing them from the pan. You have to add rice cakes to the pan with your sauce mix and cover with a lid on a medium heat. It will only need to be left to cook for around 4 minutes until the rice cakes have softened. It is essential to keep stirring all of the ingredients as soon as you add the rice cakes to ensure that they all cook equally and will not stick to the bottom of your pan.

Korean Spicy Rice Cake Ingredients

There may be what seems some unusual ingredients sometimes used in a rice cake. For instance, grated pear can be added to raw beef and used as a natural marinade to tenderize the meet. And grated pear also adds a sweetness to the whole dish. For a really Korean taste, you could try serving rice cakes with some gochuchang. This is a spicy Korean chili sauce which adds a real kick to a lot of Korean foods.

Dashi powder is also good for making quick spicy rice cakes. This powder makes a stock which is made from dried kelp.

There are lots of other ingredients that you can use when you cook rice cakes. You can try adding:

  • Spinach
  • Hot dogs
  • Kimchi
  • Chicken
  • Sliced pork
  • Sausage
  • Mushrooms
  • Noodles
  • Cheese

An array of vegetables from cabbage to peppers are good additions when cooking spicy rice cakes.

Korean Rice Cake Recipe

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves: 2


  • 1 cup rice cakes
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 cups green cabbage
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon soybean paste

For the stock:

  • 3½ cups anchovy stock (or water)
  • 8 pieces of dried kelps
  • 4 cups water


  • Place the anchovies and kelp into water, and boil on a medium heat for 15 minutes to release all the flavor. Strain to leave just a stock in your pan.
  • Add in the rice cakes which have been left to soak, scallions, cabbage, pastes and sugar to the mix. Stir to blend well.
  • Simmer on a medium heat for 15 minutes until the rice cakes have gone soft and the sauce has turned thicker. Stir every now and again to avoid the rice cakes sticking. You can add some more water to the pan and simmer for a longer if the rice cakes need to be cooked through some more when you have a thick sauce.
  • Serve rice cake while they are hot.

Storing Korean Tteokbokki Rice Cakes

If you have leftover Tteokbokki it is generally recommended that you attempt to eat cooked rice cakes by the next day. This is for the reason that the rice cakes tend to thicken up the longer that they are left in the sauce, so they often go mushy and lose their chewy texture. If you do wish to store your Korean rice cakes however, and do not mind that they have gone a little softer, then leftover rice cakes can be stored in your refrigerator for around 3 days. However, note that they are always going to be better when cooked fresh as the rice cakes become mushy. It is not recommend that you freeze Korean rice cake because once defrosted it is difficult to cook them to get a well textured spicy rice cake.

Where To Buy Ddeok in Koreatown?

Try Jihwaja or just visit any Korean supermarket like H Mart or Galleria Market.