What Does Tteokbokki Taste Like? (Eat Chewing Truth!)

When you watch Korean TV shows or visit a Korean restaurant, one dish that you would indeed find is Tteokbokki. That’s because Tteokbokki is Korea’s most popular street food. (*)

You can’t call yourself a Kpop fanatic if you haven’t tried it yet. Have you always wondered what those orangey tube-like snacks taste like? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

So what does Tteokbokki taste like?

Short answer: Tteokbokki is chewy, fluffy, savory, sweet, and spicy.

Wait, does that mean that it’s not for people who aren’t fans of spicy food? Well, it can be! However, we’ve got the perfect Tteokbokki hack to make it less spicy, so keep reading!

When you do, you’ll also learn about:

  • What is Tteokbokki?
  • What does Tteokbokki taste like?
  • How to make Tteokbokki at home?
  • … and the simple hack you’ve been waiting for!

Are you ready to know more about this famous dish? If so, let’s get going!

What is Tteokbokki?

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Tteok means rice cake, while bokki is the Korean term for stir-fried, so tteokbokki literally means stir-fried rice cake. This popular Korean snack features chewy rice cakes stir-fried in a vibrant red sauce.

Did You Know?

Koreans have lots of names for tteokbokki. They also call it topokki, dukbokki, ddeokbokki, and ddukbokki.

The main reasons it has become quite famous as an after-school snack or a food stall item are its ease of preparation and affordability.

Today, it’s widely enjoyed by adults and children alike because of its versatility since Tteokbokki now comes in different flavors with various add-ins. Here are the options you can choose from:

  • Flavors: Cheese, Curry, Rose, Spicy, Seafood, Cream Sauce, and Jajang
  • Toppings: Soft-boiled Eggs, Kimchi, Omelette Strips, Mushrooms, Scallions, Carrots, Bok Choy, Red, and Yellow Bell Peppers
Pro Tip: One great tip to change the rice cake’s texture is to sear it before adding the sauce. This simple trick can help add a crispy layer to it.

What Does Tteokbokki Taste Like?

Simply put, tteokbokki tastes like heaven for carbohydrate lovers out there. Allow us to describe this dish even better in the next few sentences.

On your first bite, the first thing you would notice is the chewy and bouncy texture of the rice cakes. But, honestly, the flavor of the rice cakes itself is pretty mild to even bland.

Here’s the exciting part: the taste of rice cakes is taken to a whole new level by the spicy, sweet, and savory sauce packed with umami.

Since the rice cakes soak up the sauce and absorb its flavor, you enjoy a rich, flavorful, and extra chewy snack that can satisfy both your tummy and taste buds.

Trivia

The chewiness of the rice cakes is similar to the texture of mochi or gnocchi.

Is Tteokbokki Spicy?

This is probably the next popular question about tteokbokki. So here’s an honest answer: Tteokbokki is mildly spicy. It’s not the spiciest Korean dish out there, but it might be a tad bit spicy for people who aren’t used to spicy food.

If you’re one of them, we’ve got a surprise for you. We’ll share a simple hack on how you can make Tteokbokki less spicy so you can enjoy its chewy texture and delicious taste minus the heat.

How to Make Tteokbokki at Home?

But before we get into that, let us first look at how you can make Tteokbokki at home. Good news: preparing this dish will take only a few minutes! It also involves only a few steps. Here they are:

Step 1. Soak the rice cakes in warm water.

Do this for around 10 minutes. This simple step can help loosen up and soften the rice cakes so you can cook them faster.

Step 2. Prepare the sauce.

As you wait for the rice cakes to soften, take this time to prepare the dish’s sauce. For this, you need the following ingredients:

  • Gochugaru (Korean chili powder)
  • Soy sauce
  • Raw sugar
  • Minced garlic
  • Honey
  • Gochujang (Korean red chili paste)

Blend everything until you form a paste.

Step 3. Simmer the sauce and fishcakes together.

Add the sauce to the fish stock and let it simmer for a few minutes. After that, add the rice cakes into the resulting mixture and let it simmer. Continue cooking until the sauce becomes thick and sticky and the rice cakes are already chewy and fluffy.

Make sure to mix the sauce and rice cakes well to ensure an even coating.

Step 4. Top it off.

Once you’re done, transfer the dish to your serving platter and top it off with the toppings of your choice. We highly recommend adding toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tteokbokki?

Here are some of the other Tteokbokki facts that you need to know:

1. Is Tteokbokki vegan?

Unfortunately, Tteokbokki isn’t vegetarian. This is because it contains anchovy stock and, sometimes, eggs.

The good news is you can make this dish vegan with just a few tweaks. For example, you can use vegetable stock in place of anchovy stock, tamari instead of soy sauce, and skip the honey.  

2. Is Ttteokbokki unhealthy?

Tteokbokki is rich in carbs and fats. However, it’s not considered intrinsically unhealthy since it will all depend on the amount of Tteokbokki you’ll consume.

Pro Tip: To keep it healthy, avoid eating too much of this dish and consume only the amount that’s within your daily carbohydrate limit.

Tteokbokki Hack: Different Ways to Make Tteokbokki Less Spicy

For those who are not fans of spicy dishes, there are a few Tteokbokki hacks that you need to try. These are as follows:

1. Use mild gochujang.

If you don’t want a spicy Tteokbokki, you can simply remove or reduce the spicy ingredients. We recommend skipping the gochugaru and using mild gochujang instead.

2. Top it off with shredded cheese.

If you find your Tteokbokki to be a bit spicy, the simplest and most delicious way to tame down its heat level is to add cheese to it.

Pro Tip: Mozzarella cheese goes oh so well with Tteokbokki because it has the same chewy texture as rice cakes.

This is because dairy products, like cheese, contain casein. (*) This type of fat-loving protein binds with and disperses the oil particles that generate heat.

3. Drizzle sesame oil on top.

You can also use oil to counteract the heat of capsaicin. The best option you have would be sesame oil since it complements the different flavors of TTeokbokki.  

The Bottom Line

What does Tteokbokki taste like? Tteokbokki is known for its chewy rice cakes and sweet, spicy, savory (and a bit fishy) sauce.

It can get a bit spicy since it contains gochugaru and gochujang. Fortunately, non-spicy lovers can easily counter its heat by adding grated cheese, using mild gochujang, and drizzling it with sesame oil.

So what are you waiting for? It’s about time that you give this delicious snack a try. We promise you’re in for a good treat!

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