Korea is famous for its street food dishes. From the moment you step into any busy place in Seoul, you cannot resist on drooling at those colorful snacks. Arguably as the number one Korean street food, tteokbokki is one of the must try iconic street food. It is impossible to not notice these bright red stir-fried rice cakes smoldering away like hot lava. You can find this dish all over the streets in Korea.
Do you know what is better than tteokbokki? I must say tteokbokki with added ramyeon, or known as rabokki, is an evolved version of the classic Korean street food, making it more of a hearty meal. I know all those bright red sauce may intimidate you from trying this recipe. These chewy rice cakes look a lot spicier than they are, but the sweet and spicy gochujang sauce definitely is quite addicting. Just some precaution not to eat this dish too much for those who are trying to lose some weight because Rabokki is essentially carbs from those rice cakes and ramyeon.
Rabokki (라볶이) is a variation of tteokbokki (떡볶이), with ramyeon (라면) noodles addition. It consists of garaetteok, a cylinder-shaped white rice cake and ramyeon as the main ingredients with other ingredients such as eomuk or fish cake, dumplings, boiled egg, seafood, and even melted cheese. The ingredients are coated with sweet and spicy gochujang sauce and the chewy rice cakes and soft noodles soak up a lot of the flavor. Rabokki is essentially an evolved version of tteokbokki and has been popular and highly commercialized by small vendors and restaurants. It is super fun to eat with all sorts of interesting textures from the rice cakes, ramyeon, and fish cakes.
Tips on Making Rabokki
1. Choose the right rice cake
Garaetteok (가래떡) is a a long and cylindrical white rice cakes made with non-glutinous rice. You can find them in different sizes in Korean grocery stores. Though all rice cakes taste like the same, the size and shape dramatically affect the texture and flavor. The thick rice cake is usually cut into thin slices for making rice cake soup. The thin and short type is used for tteokbokki and rabokki because the thin one quickly soaks in flavor. You can use either one for this recipe, but the thick one needs to be cut shorter as it will take much longer to cook.
You can find garraetteok sold freshly made, refrigerated, or frozen at Korean grocery stores. I really recommend to use the freshly made rice cakes because the frozen one tends to be dry, easy to crack, and not chewy.
2. Make it more savory
You can simply use water to make rabokki, but you need broth if you want to make it tastier. Anchovy and kelp broth is typically used for a depth of flavor. Boil anchovy and dried kelp for 15 minutes over medium heat to make the broth.
For convenience, you can also use dashi powder, just like my recipe. Dashi powder is the quickest way to make the broth as you can sprinkle the powder into the dishes while you are cooking and precooking time is not required.
3. Adjust the sauce
The rabokki sauce is made with a combination of gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste) and gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes). If you do not like the sauce to be too spicy, use only gochujang without any gochugaru. If you like it super spicy, adding gochugaru is the way to increase the heat level without altering the flavor. Be aware that each different brand of gochujang and gochugaru may result in different spiciness, sweetness, and saltiness in rabokki.
Gochugaru is a staple spice in Korean cuisine, made from coarsely ground red pepper. This spice is almost used in every Korean dish. If you cannot get the real deal, you can use cayenne pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper for its substitutes. It will not completely change the flavor. However, if you use cayenne pepper flakes, you may find seeds here and there.
4. Add the ramyeon at the last minute
Add ramyeon and vegetables at the last minute of cooking rabokki. When you add ramyeon at the beginning, the noodles will soak too much water and become too soft and soggy. I also add the instant ramyeon seasoning to make the flavor more savoury.
(Notes : I used NongShim Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup, Gourmet Spicy.)
5. How to handle rabokki leftover
I really recommend to finish rabokki in the same day you cook it as rabokki leftover does not reheat well. I make sure there is no ramyeon left before I put my rabokki at the fridge, considering leaving ramyeon in liquid will make it soggy and disintegrate into porridge texture. Then, you can reheat any leftover along with a little bit of water in a small pan over low heat on the next day.
In case you feel bored with eating rabokki, you can alternatively deep fry the rice cakes and fish cakes in oil. The outer gochujang sauce will make them extra crispy with nugget skin texture. I totally love the fried version as the rice cakes become soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
(Notes : I made three times the recipes in these photos.)
Illustration by @the.amanita
Rabokki (라볶이) is a variation of tteokbokki (떡볶이), with ramyeon (라면) noodles addition.
- 500 gr fresh Korean rice cake separated
- 150 gr oemuk / Korean fish cake chopped into small triangular pieces
- 1 pack Korean instant ramyeon
- 2 cups water (475 ml)
- 1 tsp dashi powder
- 3 tbsp gochujang
- 1 tsp gochugaru
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 onion thinly sliced
- 1 stalk green onion cut into 2 inch long pieces
- 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds (optional)
- 2 hard boiled eggs shelled, sliced in half (optional)
If using the frozen rice cakes, soak them in cold water for 1 hour to thaw. Separate and cut them in 3 inch long pieces. Drain them just before cooking.
Add water, rice cakes, and fish cakes into a medium pot over medium-high heat.
Combine dashi powder, gochujang, gochugaru, granulated sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and minced garlic in a small bowl. When the water in the pot starts to boil, stir in the sauce gently with a wooden spoon.
Keep stirring until the sauce thickens, which should take about 10 minutes. Add instant ramyeon noodles, its seasoning, and sliced onion into the pot.
Stir until noodles have cooked. When noodles are cooked through, add green onion and turn off the heat. Top with roasted sesame seeds and hard boiled egg halves, if desired.
Serve immediately after cooking.