The New Gastronome

Freaky Tteok-Bo-Kki

Freaky Pairings Episode IX: The Avant-Garde Rice Cake from Seul

Tteok-Bo-Kki is the food that brings back childhood memories from South Korean. Either on the street or in a small snack bar, it was pure joy to eat Tteokbokki with friends after school. This little apertivo for students was a way of escaping from afternoon boredom.


It is made from small-sized Garae-Tteok (glutenous rice cake) with a spicy sauce containing Gochujang (Korean pepper paste). Sometimes, I ordered cheese-Ttoekbokki and I was served deep red-coloured Tteokbokki topped with white melted mozzarella cheese which helped neutralize the spiciness. Pick up a tteok with a fork, wrap cheese around it, put it in the mouth and you are in heaven.


A.   D    V.   E.   R.   T.   I.   S.   I.   N.   G



I always ordered Coolpis with Tteokbokki, which is a probiotic drink flavoured with peach, plum or pineapple and comes packaged in cartons. It has a sweet and sour taste with artificial fruit flavour and helps to cool down the spiciness. Imagine a bite of Tteokbokki and a sip of Coolpis together. It actually works well and you will find yourself repeating this spicy-and-sweet rhythmic pattern over and over.


In South Korea, ‘Coolpis = spicy food’ is almost a formula. It was much more consumed in the past but still, you can find this old-fashioned drink in any places serving spicy food. If not, try any other form of peach juice, it will work too.






3 cups of Seafood broth* or water

4-6 sheets fish cake, thin 

1 pack (500g) Tteokbboki-Tteok, parboiled

1 stalk of green onion 

Sesame seeds (optional)

Shredded Mozzarella (optional)

Sauce ingredients: 

2 tablespoons gochujang 

2 tablespoons pepper powder 

2 tablespoons soy sauce 

2 tablespoons brown sugar 

2 tablespoons corn syrup, you can substitute with sugar or other sweeteners

a generous helping of pepper, ground

1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped


1- Cut a green onion diagonally.

2- Cut the fish cakes into bite-sized pieces.

3- In a wok, bring the broth and the sauce ingredients to a boil until it becomes thicker.

4- Add parboiled Tteokbboki-Tteok in a wok and simmer for about 20 minutes over the medium-low heat, stir occasionally otherwise it starts sticking to the bottom.

5- Add fish cakes and green onion and cook for about 5 minutes over medium-low heat.

6- Season with pepper and sesame seeds if you want. 

7- To make it a Cheese-Tteok-Bo-Kki, melt some shredded mozzarella cheese over a double boiler and add to the finished dish once fully melted. 


*Seafood broth:

3 litres of water 

2 stalks of green onion 

1/2 onion 

1 tablespoon black pepper, whole 

2 dried chilli peppers

40g dried anchovies

10cm*10cm kombu


1- Combine all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.

2- When it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, not covered.

3- Strain the broth through a cheesecloth into a large bowl.


Photos @Aarón Gómez Figueroa


About the author

Soojin Yang

She is a student in the Master’s program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Born and raised in South Korea, she previously worked as a math teacher at the high school in her hometown, Gwangju. Interested in the correlation between food and emotion, she just started her research on how people are emotionally connected with their home food.