Vegan Tteokbokki with Vegetables | Spicy Korean Rice Cakes (떡볶이)

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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! 

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.

chopsticks holding two saucy rice cakes over bowl of tteokbokki on white marble background

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

ingredients for tteokbokki on white marble background

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.

vegetables for tteokbokki on white marble background

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

adding uncooked rice cakes to stock in pancooked tteokbokki in pan with wood spoon

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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
  4. Turn the heat off and garnish with green onions and sesame oil (optional). Top with sesame seeds, then serve and devour.

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!

close up photo of cooked tteokbokki with sesame seeds in pot with wooden spoon

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!

This Vegan Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes) is chewy, saucy, spicy, and loaded with veggies! A plant-powered twist on the classic Korean street food. #tteokbokki #vegan #vegankorean #plantbased #noodles #noodles | frommybowl.com

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 🙂

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Vegan Tteokbokki (떡볶이) with Vegetables

pan of cooked tteokbokki with sesame seeds on marble background

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.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 4 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Korean
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups (590 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth (homemade or store-bought)
  • 3 green onions, roughly chopped; white and green parts separated
  • 1/4 head napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 to 5 cloves)
  • 23 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes; optional)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cane or coconut sugar
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 16 ounces (450 g) Korean rice cakes (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)
  • sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add the vegetable broth to a deep pan or pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. Add the cabbage, white parts of the green onions, carrot, and garlic; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the gochujang (paste), gochugaru (flakes), tamari, and sugar. Add the mushrooms and simmer for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the rice cakes to the pan/pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The rice cakes will soften and grow a larger, while the sauce will decrease and thicken.
  4. Turn the heat off and stir in the green onions and sesame oil (optional). Top with sesame seeds, then serve warm.

Notes

  • Substitutions: there is no substitute for the rice cakes, gochujang, or gochugaru. Please see the links above for my personal recommendations.
  • I recommend using freshly made or refrigerated rice cakes – frozen are okay, but shelf-stable ones can be very dry.

Keywords: vegan tteokbokki, healthy tteokbokki, vegan korean food, vegan korean recipes, korean rice cakes, spicy rice cakes, topokki

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. Easy to prepare and delicious! We used the exact amounts specified and it was not too spicy–even people who were wary of spicy food loved it!

  2. It was pretty tasty but definitely too spicy for me. I would reduce the amount of gochujang and gochugaru the next time I make it.

  3. Hi Caitlin! This looks so good and I’m so excited to try!! Is there any amount you suggest for making this slightly less spicy? My boyfriend and I are babies when it comes to taking heat lol

    1. Hi, Maggi! Excited for you to try the recipe. You can opt to reduce or omit the Gochugaru / Korean red pepper flakes since the Gochujang already brings heat.

  4. Looks great and I’d like to make it. However I only have packaged dry rice cakes. What can I do to make them softer before cooking? Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. If they are Korean rice cakes (not the american snack), I believe those should be fine. You will probably just need to add a little extra water!

  5. This looks insane! I am currently going through a little fascination phase with Korean flavours so your recipe couldn’t be more perfect. Can’t wait to make it!

  6. A great balance of spicy, chewy, and borderline healthy. I was excited to make this with the weather turning colder this past week – 10/10.

  7. This was delicious!!! The whole family loved it. I doubled it to serve 4 and used an extra cup of broth since I used dried shitake instead of fresh. So, so good! Thanks for an excellent recipe.

  8. Making this tonight for dinner! I needed some pointers and yours has extra veggies! Yay! I’ll be making my own gochujang with miso paste and Korean chili powder etc. Thanks <3

  9. This looks soooo good I can’t wait to make this!! I’ve never had this dish or Korean food but been wanting to try it and so happy to find a vegan recipe YAY thank you 🙂

    1. Sure! Although it would probably be best stored in a fridge and eaten within a few days.