This Vegan Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes) is chewy, saucy, spicy, and loaded with veggies! A plant-powered twist on the classic Korean street food.
Tteokbokki (also spelled ddukbokki, ddeokbokki, dukbokki, topokki, 떡볶이) is a classic korean street food of chewy stir-fried rice cakes in a sweet/spicy/sticky red sauce. The traditional version isn’t vegan, but it’s very easy to modify with a few simple swaps!
Reading: vegetarian rice cake dish
Dylan (my partner) and I are absolutely obsessed with this dish and eat it all the time! It’s the perfect cozy night dinner that just so happens to be packed with veggies and ready in about 30 minutes.
I originally learned how to make tteokbokki from my friend Liz Miu. She has a recipe for traditional tteokbokki on her blog, which inspired this recipe variation. Be sure to check it out, as well as all of her other amazing recipes!
Traditional tteokbokki consists of rice cakes, fish cakes, a spicy sauce, and green onions – that’s pretty much it. This version is veganized and has extra veggies added in for (1) extra nutrition, and (2) to be able to eat even MORE of the yummy sauce! I’ve also added a few ingredients to boost the umami flavor of the dish, since we’ll be making it without fish.
INGREDIENTS FOR VEGAN TTEOKBOKKI
First off, let’s talk about the special ingredients you will need to make tteokbokki:
- Korean Rice Cakes: a.k.a. garaetteok or 가래떡. These long, tubular sticks are made from glutinous rice and are chewy and addicting. The texture is similar to mochi or a dense gnocchi. They’re not available in traditional grocery stores, but most asian markets have them in stock. They can be shelf-stable, refrigerated, or frozen. I’d recommend getting the fridge packs (frozen is ok too, but shelf-stable are not as great). If you can find some freshly made ones, even better! The only ingredients in these cakes should be rice and salt – they’re naturally gluten-free.
- Gochujang: or Korean red pepper paste. This paste is becoming increasingly popular and may be available in your local grocer, but be sure to check the ingredients first. It’s common for gochujang to be made with wheat and/or high fructose corn syrup, which I try to avoid. I purchase this cane-sugar sweetened one online and love it!
- Gochugaru: Korean red chili pepper flakes. This coarsely ground red pepper is made from sun-dried chiles and has a unique flavor and medium spice level. It’s commonly used in tteokbokki, kimchi, and a variety of other Korean dishes. I purchase mine online as well, as I have trouble finding it at my local asian markets. If you can’t find it near you, you can leave this one out.
The rest of the ingredients can be commonly found in the grocery store:
- Napa Cabbage, for volume and a nice bite,
- Carrots, for sweetness
- Shiitake Mushrooms for umami and chew – this is untraditional, but highly recommended
- and some Garlic and Green Onions, for flavor (and color).
You’ll also need some vegetable broth and low-sodium tamari or soy sauce, as you’ll see below.
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN TTEOKBOKKI
- Warm some vegetable broth on the stove and add the cabbage, carrot, and garlic. Simmering these ingredients together helps to make a more flavorful stock.
- Stir in the gochujang (paste) and gochugaru (flakes) along with tamari and a tiny bit of sugar. You can also add the mushrooms here as well!
- Once the paste dissolves into the broth, add the rice cakes and simmer for 15-20 minutes. The rice cakes will soften and grow a little larger
- Turn the heat off and garnish with green onions and sesame oil (optional). Top with sesame seeds, then serve and devour.
Read more: best gluten free vegetarian main dish
Traditional tteokbokki is made with anchovy broth, but I find that vegetable broth works perfectly fine. It’s also common to mix the gochujang with the gochujaru, garlic, sugar, and tamari before you add it to the pot, but I haven’t noticed a difference in flavor when adding everything directly in. And yay for one less dish!
Honestly, just staring at those saucy, springy rice cakes is making my mouth water. If you love korean food (or asian food in general) and haven’t tried this yet – GET ON IT! Finding the rice cakes, gochujang, and gochugaru may seem like a hassle at first, but once you have them in your pantry you’ll want to make this dish over and over (and over) again.
Also if you’re looking for more asian-inspired recipes, you’ll love these Spicy Sesame Noodles, this Kimchi Fried Rice, and this Kimchi Ramen Salad!
And hey! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl – I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂
Read more: Potato Wedges