Around the World Quick and Easy Recipes Tips from Janani

Tteokbokki Ramen – Spicy Korean Rice Cake

Hi Vegetarian Carnivores! Hands up if you LOVE Korean food! I sure do, and I am so excited to be sharing this delicious recipe with you today. I made this quite a long time ago and this recipe has been on backlog for SO long, but it is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever made. It combines all of my favorite things: rice, noodles, and spice! The tofu makes it a hearty meal and the noodles give you the satisfaction of having eaten a filling dish. I am talking about tteokbokki ramen!


Otherwise known as Korean rice cake, tteokbokki was one of my very first memories of eating Korean food and is so scarce in most restaurants near me that I realized I had to make it myself. I was HOOKED in my first year of college when I spent time with my cousins in SoCal and they introduced me to Korean food. The dish that stood out the most to me was the tteokbokki and for years since then I have struggled to find it in Korean restaurants, as I understand it is somewhat of a specialty that not everyone makes.

So that’s what I have done here! The way I had it in the restaurant was rice cakes in a spicy sauce. That was delicious, definitely, but I felt it was missing some kind of sustenance. The rice was temporarily filling but I knew I needed a little more substance if I was to feel satiated for a couple of hours. That was the inspiration for this recipe!

More substance

Noodles, as you might be well aware of, are one of my most favorite foods in the world. Indo chinese, chow mein, pho, ramen, udon, soba, you name it. I am a mega fan! So naturally when I thought of how to make this dish more filling, I landed on ramen and tofu! And filling it is!

The rice cakes I used here were frozen and I bought them at a local Asian grocery store. You can get them at most pan Asian stores or grocery marts. Something to note about the rice cakes. I used frozen so I had to microwave them in warm water to help thaw and expand. If you are using fresh or refrigerated, simply soaking in warm water for 15-20 minutes should do the trick.

Perfect rice cakes

Here’s the trick with the rice cakes. You don’t want to cook them 100% through before adding them to the dish. The trick is that the starch from the rice cakes will seep out into the sauce, thickening it out. And in return the flavor from the sauce with seep into the rice cakes. If the rice cakes are cooked all the way through before getting into the sauce, then they will already have given up their starch and be expanded from the water. A good rule of thumb on how cooked is “cooked enough” is to take a knife and cut a cross section of a piece of rice cake. If the knife runs into resistance just towards the middle, that is just cooked enough. A clean cut means overcooked, and rock solid means not cooked enough! This part took me some trial and error, but once you really get a feel for it, you can’t forget it!

My favorite part of this recipe is that it comes with minimal clean up! I made it in my beloved Instant Pot and only had one pot to clean!

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Ingredients (4 servings)

  1. 20 oz Korean rice cake (about two handfuls of rice cakes), soaked in warm water if fresh/microwaved in water for 45 seconds if frozen
  2. 7 oz extra firm tofu, sliced thin or crumbled (about half a generic sized pack)
  3. 3-4 scallions, sliced
  4. 2 packets ramen noodles, cooked
  5. 4 cups vegetable stock (I used Better than Bouillion No-Chicken vegan base)
  6. 2-3 tbsp gochujang, depending on spice preferance
  7. 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  8. 2 tbsp sugar
  9. 1 tbsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  10. Sesame seeds, for seasoning


  1. Set Instant Pot to saute mode and add broth, gochujang, soy sauce, and sugar. Mix well. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can easily make this on stove top! Just use a large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add in tofu slices and tteokbokki pieces and continue stirring.
  3. Keep stirring until the mixture has thickened into a viscous sauce.
  4. Mix in gochugaru and scallions and mix well.
  5. Mix in cooked ramen noodles last and turn off the Instant Pot.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds and more scallions, if desired!


I was absolutely blown away by the results. I had looked at quite a few recipes online on how to make this to draw some inspiration, but I definitely think this one is the vegan winner! Full of flavor and different textures, I know you’ll enjoy making this! Let me know in the comments if you love Korean food!!

See you soon

Janani <3 <3


  1. I absolutely LOVE Korean food and I’m always on the lookout for recipes for my insant pot so this is absolutely perfect.  My only question about this recipe is when do you add in the rice cakes – or are they the tteokbokki you refer to?  As I live in the middle of nowhere and the selection of asian foods is EXTREMELY limited, I took a peak on Amazon and noticed that they sell rice cakes however the weights seem to be really off compared to what you are mentioning.  I am wondering if I could use those or if they are ridiculously expensive for this.  Its hard to figure it out with just pictures when one hasn’t made the recipe yet. I certainly hope to soon, though!

    1. Korean food is delicious, isn’t it?! The rice cakes are the tteokbokki – It is the Korean name for it. Oh man, if you live in the middle of nowhere it might be hard to come by… tell you what- I will try to come up with a recipe to make the tteokbokki from scratch. Since it is essentially just a shaped rice cake, I don’t see why we can’t make it on our own!

  2. This looks yummy and seems to be fairly easy to make. You mention that it toook you a while to get the rice cakes just “cooked enough”, but could you give me an indication of how many minutes that would be? I have an Asian store near me so will be visiting them to get the ingredients that I need for this dish. Thanks for sharing this Korean recipe. 

    1. Hi there! Thanks for the support 🙂 “Cooked enough” took me 45 seconds of microwaving a rock solid frozen rice cake on high submerged in a bowl of water. Or if you are using fresh or refrigerated, you can soak in hot water for 15-20 minutes! 

  3. Hi and thank you for sharing this recipe! I am vegetarian since 4 years ago and, so I can use any advice on what to cook -;) Since I turned to stop eating meat, I fall in love with the Asian kitchen, but being honest, I never tried any Korean food, even though I always wanted. After your article, I am hooked a bit more and I will definitely speak with my girlfriend about it( she is half Asian by the way) and we will prepare it probably. I love your website, as it offers more vegetarian options. I am so happy I found your blog, now I can get inspiration anytime!

    1. I am so happy you found my site helpful! And I hope you try this out, because it has all the staple Asian spices and flavors, so if you’re a fan of that then you’ll love it! Hope to see you back on my site soon!!

  4. “The Vegetarian Carnivore”
    What an intriguing and clever title for a website. 😊
    Add those delicious-looking pictures of well-prepared dishes and I’m almost ready to convert to vegetarianism myself.

    I watch a lot of K-dramas, and I can’t help but notice that Koreans seem to love their food. As in “Oh My Ghost” or “Let’s Eat” to name but two of my favourite K-dramas, food always plays at least some—if not a major—part.

    The dreamy and enticing pictures, along with my perceptions of Korean food gained from watching all those tv series makes me want to try out the recipes for myself. I guess I’ll have to find a Korean shop and give it a go… 😉

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