Tteokbokki is one of my all-time favorite foods. It is a Korean rice cake dish made with a spicy red chili sauce base topped with fish cake and scallion. I like to cook mine with egg, onion and sesame leaf (Korean perilla), and many like to include cheese, cabbage, mini sausage and fried dumplings. Popular side pairings include fish cake soup, fried vegetables and seaweed rolls, rice balls and yellow pickled radish. In South Korea, tteokbokki is accessible in many forms. You can make it from scratch, purchase a DIY tteokbokki kit at the grocery store, buy a dried instant tteokbokki bowl at the convenience store, get it fresh on the street, order it from home or sit down and eat it at a restaurant. There are even tteokbokki buffets that allow you to choose from a variety of rice cake types, sauce combinations, toppings and side dishes. Not only has tteokbokki become easily accessible and customizable, there are also many variations of the classic tteokbokki that have been trending in South Korea. Here are several variations with a little twist to the classic tteokbokki.
What is it called when you combine ramen and tteokbokki? Rabokki. This classic combination, which involves topping tteokbokki with instant ramen noodles, has been around for a very long time. You can find this menu option available in many Korean restaurants, and it’s very easy to make — you simply put raw ramen noodles into your tteokbokki when the rice cake is almost cooked.
Translated as the “royal court” tteokbokki, this is a fancy tteokbokki dish where instead of the classic red chili paste sauce, soy sauce is used as the base. It includes toppings of a variety of colors including red and yellow bell peppers, carrot, scallion, onion, mushroom, omelette strips and most importantly bulgogi beef. Versions of the gungjung tteokbokki have historically been served in royal palaces as a healthy, carefully curated dish.
This variation combines tteokbokki with the sauce of jajangmyeon, also known as black bean sauce noodles. With jajangmyeon also being another one of my favorite foods, I love this combination because it is fun and easy to make with jajang sauce. The rich sauce pairs well with the chewy texture of rice cakes.
You may be wondering what this variation combines — if you guessed rosé pasta sauce and tteokbokki, you’re right! This variation has been trending in 2021 in South Korea, and many existing tteokbokki places have picked it up as a new menu item. The combination of creamy and spicy is surprisingly tasty, and restaurants often top it with sausage, bacon and quail eggs. Because it’s so rich and creamy, once I eat it, I find that it takes me at least a month to crave it again.
Should this dish be categorized as tteokbokki or pizza? A few pizza and dessert shops introduced this baked dish several years ago, where a dough base and covering topped with cheese and parsley contains tteokbokki inside. It basically looks like quiche with tteokbokki filling. I love the combination of bread, cheese and tteokbokki, and as it bakes in the oven together it creates a perfect crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture.
I’m excited to see what new variations of tteokbokki will be trending in the future. If you’re a tteokbokki lover like me, make sure to try a few of these and don’t be afraid to experiment with new combinations on your own — you never know what tastes good together until you try it!