Thursday, March 29, 2012


Tteokpokki (떡볶이) refers to little rice cakes sauteed in a kochujang (red pepper paste) or soy sauce-based sauce, or other kinds like seafood, jahpchae, beef, or fusion sauces like curry, cheese, jjajang (자장, black bean sauce), etc. The rice cakes, called 떡 ('tteok') in Korean, are shaped in the form of little cylinders the size of one's index finger, tteokpokki tteok, or much bigger in the form of jumbo rolls with the diameter of a quarter, garaetteok (가래떡). They can also take the form of ovalettes a few mm in thickness, tteokguek tteok, but this is not a traditional ingredient for tteokbokki. '볶이' means 'sautee' and thus tteokpokki refers to 'sauteed rice cakes'.

Topokki JJang 
an iPad app that features 
32 tteokpokki recipes

More tteokpokki recipes from Topokki Research Institute

An excellent overview of several basic types of tteokpokki

Tteokpokki originated from the Korean royal court where it was referred to as '떡찜' ('Steamed Tteok'), '떡잡채' ('Tteok Jahpchae', sauteed tteok with assorted vegetables and beef), '떡전골' ('Tteok Jeongol', tteok hotpot), etc. (Assorted faculty and students from the Traditional Food Culture Dept. of Sookmyung University and its Korean Food Research Center). The royal version of tteokpokki, which we now know as 'Goongjoong Tteokpokki', was a special treat for royals. According to Sookmyung University, one version was made of white tteok, rib meat (sirloin), sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, etc. according to the late 18th century cookbook 시의전서 (Nate 백과사전). Goongjoong Tteokpokki was the original form of tteokpokki as well as the first version of 간장 떡볶이 ('Gahnjang Tteokpokki', Soy Sauce Tteokpokki). 

The name '떡볶이' ('tteokpokki') was first featured in print in the 1942 cookbook "조선요리제법" ('Joseon Cooking Methods') (Sookmyung). The modern version of tteokpokki was established sometime after 1950 with Kochujang Tteokpokki (고추장 떡볶이) ("길거리 음식의 140억 투입 . . . 한식 세계화의 첨병으로", JoongAng Sunday, Suh Kyung-Ho). The exact timeline for the popular transition from soy sauce to kochujang tteokpokki is not clear, but this was the time when tteokpokki became a mainstream dish from the exclusive treat that it once was for the aristocrats and royalty (Suh). The noble class did not prepare tteokpokki in such a spicy manner, but used soy sauce as a flavor base. The introduction of kochujang was an adaptation made when tteokpokki became a mainstream dish. 

For a more extensive summary of how tteokpokki evolved, you may refer to the sources cited as well as these articles:

an excellent introduction to the history of tteokpokki 

A Brief Timeline of How Tteokpokki Evolved via Topokki Research Institute

The really cheap version of tteokpokki is made up of just sauce and rice cakes. But more standard variations include vegetables, beef, boiled eggs, fishcakes, and/or seafood. Ramen noodles may also be added as an additional treat, turning it into rappokki (라볶이). The key to making delicious tteokpokki is to use cakes that are freshly made of 100% rice in addition to using a delicious broth to flavor the sauce. Cakes that contain white flour do not taste as fresh or light as pure rice cakes. I prefer using ovalettes when rice cakes are called for in a recipe as they are thinner and lighter than the more commonly used cylinders. If you are marinading or thawing rice cakes, do not soak them too long or they will get too soft. I prefer to get the most most flavor per piece so use thinner versions of tteokpokki tteok. I add a seaweed and anchovy broth made of dashima (thick and flat dried kelp) to my tteokpokki sauce to give it a more savory flavor in addition to the carrots, squash, and beef that I use. Other broths may include seafood, beef, and/or vegetables, depending on the version of tteokpokki one is making. I prefer a slight sweetness to my tteokpokki sauce, so add additional sugar if necessary. 

An introduction to Royal Tteokpokki and a parody via Korean Food Festival
the most traditional version of tteokpokki

Royal or Gungjung Tteokpokki (궁중떡볶이)
via Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine

A modern take on the royal dish via Storycook124

궁중떡볶이 via Naver Kitchen (Korean)
Royal Tteokpokki adapted for the home cook

the most popular version of tteokpokki

해물떡볶이 ('Haemool Tteokpokki') or Seafood Tteokpokki via theboni
a popular variation on the spicy standard

해물떡볶이 via Naver Kitchen 

라볶이 or Rappokki via Seoul Taste
Tteokpokki with Ramen Noodles

라볶이 via 황금연못

잡채 떡볶이 or Jahpchae Tteokpokki via Samna

불고기 야채 떡볶이 or Bulgogi Vegetable Tteokpokki via Bravo My Life

카레 떡볶이 or Curry Tteokpokki via 아송
(카레 - curry, pronounced 'karae' in Korean)
Indian, Japanese, and Korean fusion dish

자장 떡볶이 or Jjajang Tteokpokki via Life is Cooking
Chinese Korean fusion dish

치즈 떡볶이 or Cheese Tteokpokki via theboni
American Korean fusion dish

Posted by tastingkorea


  1. Hello there!! This is Dustin from and My bogging has always just been a hobby, but at I have an arrangement with Daniel that I would redesign his blog and post there regularly, and I'd receive advertising revenue. So it's not much payment, actually it hasn't been any so far, but I hope I'll receive a little bit in the future.

    Anyway, I really like your blog and will subscribe for future updates. Also I am going to create a list of "great Korean food blogs" at seouleats, would you be interested in being listed?

  2. I would love to be listed on seouleats. Thank you.

    Anyhow, I just thought it was a shame as I really do enjoy Seoulfood on its own. Every blog has a distinct voice and vision, so you can post whatever you want on Seoulfood. I also like the spaced out format of Seoulfood better although both are nice.

  3. I hope you keep up the Seoulfood site even if you don't update it as it's a good resource on Korean food.


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