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Tteokbokki: What Is It, Taste, and How To Eat?

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Published on:

Korean cuisine is rising in popularity thanks to the healthiness of the food as well as the versatility. If you’re interested in trying new foods from a different culture, you should try Korean dishes. More specifically, you should try tteokbokki. 

Tteokbokki is a Korean dish that’s commonly used as street food. It’s a type of simmered rice cake, and it’s supposed to be a snack food, not a full meal. 

Tteokbokki is a cheap food for all ages that you can get easily. It’s also well known for being a comfort food since you can customize the flavors to better suit your palate. 

The rest of this article will cover what tteokbokki is, how to eat it, and a brief conclusion.

What Tteokbokki Is

Tteokbokki (떡볶이) is a comfort food that’s sweet, spicy, and savory. Although you can modify the spice level and make it not as spicy, typically it’s made with spice. 

If you get it straight from a street vendor, it’s likely going to be spicy. You’ll have to make it yourself if you want less heat.

The base of tteokbokki is sauce, which is made using a broth from dried anchovies, kelp, and mushrooms. 

This can give it an unmani flavor, or you can use a different sauce using vegetable or chicken broth. You can add sweetness by adding honey and or brown sugar as well.

The texture tends to be chewy, and it’s a filling snack. There are several variations of the dish in modern times. 

It’s evolved over the years and there’s countless flavors you can add, textures you can try, and ways you can serve it.

Back in the 19th century, there was a cookbook named Siuijeonseo. In this book is the earliest record of tteokbokki. There were several variants of tteokbokki in the book. 

One of those variants was tteokjjim, which is a type of steamed rice cake. Since then, the dish has changed.

The spicy tteokbokki came about in 1953 – and it was by accident. A Korean-Chinese restaurant accidentally dropped tteokbokki in a spicy sauce. 

After tasting it, it was determined it was flavorful, and a recipe for spicy tteokbokki was created.

Where To Buy Tteokbokki

In South Korea, you can find tteokbokki in a lot of places. In stores, on the streets, and in restaurants. 

Most commonly, you’ll find it on the streets. If you’ve ever seen the Netflix series Squid Game, you’ll notice the main character eats tteokbokki with his daughter at the beginning.

It’s known for being a very affordable, filling snack. Look for street vendors whenever you want to try it. At cheap cafes and restaurants, you can find tteokbokki as well. 

There’s various snack bars around South Korea that sell tteokbokki along with other filling snack foods.

Outside of Korea, you can still get tteokbokki, it’s just harder. Since it’s a snack food, if you order a Korean snack box, there’s a chance you can get tteokbokki included in it. 

These can be monthly Korean boxes, or you can get one or two and try to get tteokbokki. Also, here are 11 sides that go well with tteokbokki.

In general, you’re likely to find tteokbokki online. It can easily be shipped from warehouses to your home. If you’d prefer not to order online, that’s okay. 

You can find tteokbokki at Korean restaurants either with dine-in, takeout, or delivery.

Occasionally, you can find Korean restaurants that sell packaged goods like tteokbokki. There’s also the option of buying packaged tteokbokki from your Korean grocery store

If none of those options appeal to you, you can make it from scratch with the proper ingredients.

How To Eat Tteokbokki

Korean cuisine is versatile to the ones eating it. That’s why Korean cuisine is growing all over the world. Tteokbokki is another Korean dish that’s very versatile. 

You can experiment with different ingredients, add broth to it, eat it as a snack, or even eat it with fried foods.

Eating Tteokbokki With Different Ingredients

If you’re looking for variety, experimenting with different sauces is the way to go. There’s of course the spicy version that you can add any spicy sauce to, making it as hot as you want. 

Or you can try the tamer version, which is considered the original version of tteokbokki.

Along with sauces, you can add different ingredients. The reason it’s so customizable is because you can add almost any type of meat or seafood to it and it’ll taste delicious.

For example, short rib tteokbokki is a trendy choice in South Korea.

There’s always the basic seasonings and sauces you can add to make it taste better. For starters, you can add more salt and pepper. 

There’s also soy or oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is a very nice sauce that’s often used on tteokbokki in South Korea. You should try it too!

Adding Broth To Tteokbokki

Most of the time, you’ll see tteokbokki served in broth or with broth. This is because the flavor is enhanced by it. 

Another element of tteokbokki’s variety is the types of broth you can add to it. There’s a choice of veggie broths or meat broths, like chicken.

Eating Tteokbokki As A Snack

As a snack, tteokbokki works very well. Of course, it’s very cheap and easy to get no matter where you are. In or outside of Korea, you can get your hands on tteokbokki for cheap. 

Although it’ll be more expensive out of Korea, it’s still much cheaper than other meals and snacks.

Tteokbokki can be eaten on its own as a snack, but you can also add ingredients to it to make it more filling. 

For example, if you add more seafood as a secondary ingredient, it’s a much more filling snack and will give you the energy you need for the rest of the day.

Eating Tteokbokki With Fried Foods

To increase how diverse your meal is, you can add certain fried foods to your dish. 

Although tteokbokki isn’t meant to be a whole meal, you can still serve it with other foods to make it one. One food you can serve it with is blood sausage, which is called soondae (순대) in Korean.

Yet another popular street food, soondae, also spelled sundae, is a filling Korean dish you can have with your tteokbokki. Having fried food or meat with tteokbokki enhances the flavor and the overall experience you have eating it.

Conclusion

In South Korea, there’s a popular and cheap street food known as tteokbokki.

It’s a comfort food that’s sweet, spicy, and savory in taste. It has a chewy texture that makes it appealing to all ages. Like other Korean foods, tteokbokki is very customizable.

Back in the 19th century, tteokbokki’s first appearance came in the form of a cookbook.

This book was called Siuijeonseo, and several variants of tteokbokki were present. You can buy tteokbokki from many places both in South Korea and outside it.

Lastly, you can eat and prepare tteokbokki in numerous ways. 

You can experiment with it and add unique sauces and ingredients to it. Speaking of flavor, try adding broth to it. As for how to eat it, you can have it as a snack or eat it with fried foods.

About The Author

Photo of author

Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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