I’ve eaten tteokbokki (떡볶이) as long as I can remember. My mom would make this for my sister and I on the weekends as a lunch or a snack. I started making this for my hubby a few years ago, and then we wanted to make an upgrade. Rabokki (라볶이) was the most natural progression, as it didn’t require too much of a shift in ingredients.
Tteokbokki originated as a non-spicy rice cake dish made with vegetables, meat, and soy sauce. It morphed into the more familiar spicy version within this past century or so, and what we primarily eat today. We only began adding hard-boiled eggs, cheese, instant noodles (라면 – ramyeon/ramyun), and dumplings (만두 – mandu) to tteokbokki very recently, changing the names of these dishes into different portmanteaux, like rabokki (instant noodles + spicy rice cakes).
My mom began adding mushrooms into our tteokbokki because my sister and I were both vegetarian for more than a decade (She’s still veggie, by the way. Me? Not so much.), and it gave the dish more substance. When I started to make this for myself and for my boyfriend (who is now my hubby) I decided to add more ingredients. Fishcake (surimi/eomuk) was an immediate addition; we ate it this way for years. Rabokki made its debut last month in our home, when we knew it just needed an extra layer of fun.
We made this into a meal, but this can easily be shared with friends!
**Taken from a previous post that required dashi, here is a snippet of how to make your own dashi:
Powdered dashi really comes in handy for this recipe, however, dashi (出汁) can be easily made from scratch. For a quart (about a liter) of water, simmer a palm-size piece of kombu (昆布 – dried kelp), a couple of dried shiitake mushrooms, and a handful of dried shaved bonito (鰹節, かつおぶし – katsuobushi) for 10 minutes. Cover, turn off the flame, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Strain the large pieces and use the dashi for all of your [Japanese] recipes.**
- 590-830ml (2½-3½ cups) Dashi or Meat Broth
- 340g (12oz) Beef
- 15-20 dried Shiitake, less than 1in in diameter
- 454g (1lb) Rice Cakes (tteok)
- 2 Chikuwa, or 60-70g (½-cup) Surimi
- 100g (1 medium) Onion
- 100g (2 small) Carrot
- 130g (4T, heaping) Hot Pepper Paste (gochujang)
- 2-3 Garlic cloves, minced
- 14g (1T) Sesame Oil
- 1 pack Instant Noodles (ramyeon)
- 20g (1T) Maltose
- 2½-5g (1-2t) Toasted Black and Golden Sesame Seeds
- 32g (2T) Soy Sauce, optional
- 2-3 hard-boiled Eggs, optional
- In a large pot, bring 2 cups of broth to a simmer. Separately, boil the meat in water. Cook fully and drain. Cut up the cooked meat into bite-size pieces, and add it to the large pot. Add the mushrooms. Let it simmer until the mushrooms have re-hydrated, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the rice cakes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Let it re-hydrate, about 5 minutes.
- Cut the fishcake into bite-size pieces, and slice the onion and carrot. Place all of it into the pot.
- Add the pepper paste, garlic, and sesame oil. Stir until combined. Add the rest of the broth. Bring the pot back to a simmer.
- Open up the pack of ramyeon and submerge the noodles into the pot. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Add about half of the seasoning packet.
- Turn off the heat and add the maltose and sesame seeds. Stir to combine. Taste-test to see if it needs some soy sauce. Add desired amount to season.
- Plate the rabokki onto a large open dish, slice the eggs in half, and place the eggs all around the edge. Enjoy with your friends, family, and a nice cold glass of beer or some soju!
- Although I’ve quickly explained on how to make your own dashi, you can also boil the piece(s) of beef in some water until the meat is fully cooked, drain (to remove the foam and blood), refill with about 3-4 cups of water and simmer the beef for 30 minutes with the dried mushrooms; this will give you a simple broth. Equally, if you want to make this vegetarian, use the mushrooms and/or kombu to make your broth. Using broth instead of plain water gives the rabokki good flavor.
- The shiitake I use are tiny, so they plump up fast and I don’t have to slice them. If you are using larger mushrooms (2in in diameter or larger), hydrate them over a few hours or make dashi with them before slicing and using. And, obviously, use fewer mushrooms (about 6-8, for 2in ones).
- If you defrost your rice cakes in your refrigerator (if they are bought frozen) before you make this recipe, they will re-hydrate quickly. Make sure you watch the pot and stir, to prevent sticking.
- There are lots of fishcakes to choose from! We use the flat eomuk and chikuwa the most. You can find fishcake in your local Asian grocery.
- The onions and carrot are sliced into wedges and coins, respectively. I usually cut them fairly thin (¼-½in) to lessen the cooking time.
- The reserved broth is important for two reasons: first, it hydrates the noodles, and second, it loosens the sauce. Use water if you don’t have enough broth. The end result of the sauce should be similar to gravy.
- Most instant noodle packs come with a seasoning powder. I only add half of the packet to supplement the spicy and savory flavors of the rabokki. Otherwise, it can be too spicy or too salty. Additionally, I only add soy sauce to the dish if it needs more salt.
- I plate the eggs last because I don’t want the yolks to crumble into the mix. You are welcome to add them into the pot right before plating, if you prefer having the eggs coated in some sauce.
**Here are some of the ingredients I use for this recipe. Please, feel free to browse and ask questions on anything you see listed below.**