Rabokki (Ramen + Tteokbokki)

published Nov 17, 2021
Rabokki Recipe (Ramen + Tteokbokki)

Rabokki is served in bunsikjips, or snack shops, all across South Korea as more of a lighter bite; but it can quickly and easily stretch into a heartier main course.

Serves2

Prep15 minutes

Cook8 minutes to 10 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

I’ve lost track of the number of exhausting weeknights where my stomach rumbles at 8 p.m. and I realize I haven’t had dinner yet. When this happens, I tend to fix myself a pot of Korean instant ramyun. It’s delicious and cooks before I have another second to think about how hungry and tired I am — a true weeknight savior. But sometimes I’m craving something more substantial that still comes together fast. And that’s when I make rabokki.

Rabokki is a thrifty concept similar to Chapaguri (a portmanteau for Chapaghetti and Neoguri instant ramyun), featured in Bong Joon Ho’s 2019 psychological thriller Parasite. Instead of mixing two types of noodles, rabokki is the addition of ramyun into tteokbokki, chewy Korean rice cakes stir-fried in a spicy-sweet gochujang sauce. Rabokki is often served in bunsikjips, or snack shops, all across South Korea as more of a lighter bite; but as I learned in my Korean American family’s kitchen, it can quickly and easily stretch into a heartier main course. The oh-so-satisfying squidgy rice cakes and springy noodles are perfect proof (if you need it) that two carbs are better than one. Strips of fried fish cakes provide a meaty sponginess that helps mop up the glossy red sauce. 

Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

A Hearty Dish Made from Pantry Staples

This recipe uses Asian pantry and fridge ingredients I am almost never without. On any given day, I have packs of instant ramyun falling out of my cabinet. Gochugaru and gochujang are my two pantry security blankets; I use them all the time because the kick of nuanced heat they add to dishes like kimchi jjigae and chicken wings is unmatched. I also keep a bag of frozen cylindrical tteok (rice cakes) handy to thaw when I want to make a smaller batch of tteokbokki as a simple snack. Tteok are a great treat in their own right, lightly grilled and dipped into some honey. But that bag of tteok usually chills in my freezer in anticipation of my 8 p.m. hunger pangs — the next of which will probably be tonight.

Making Rabokki 

You’ll start by thawing your rice cakes, which should give you plenty of time to prep the other ingredients. Give your hands a quick rinse and while you’re at it, drain the rice cakes (if they thawed in water) and add 3 cups of water to a pot. Toss in dried anchovies and kombu and bring to a boil to create a soup stock. Remove the stock ingredients and throw in a block of ramyun noodles to hydrate them without fully cooking them. Hydrating the noodles now prevents them from cooking too much later, which can result in a thicker gravy and not the true soupy sauce we want. Transfer the noodles to a bowl, then swirl gochujang, gochugaru, and oligo syrup into the pot to dissolve. 

Enter: the tteok! Add in the cylindrical rice cakes and sliced fish cakes, cooking just until the rice cakes start to soften. Add in the ramen noodles and give the whole mixture a gentle stir to acquaint every ingredient with the soupy sauce. Continue to cook until the noodles are cooked to al dente, then turn off the heat and top with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve on separate plates or eat straight from the communal pot!

Rabokki Recipe (Ramen + Tteokbokki)

Rabokki is served in bunsikjips, or snack shops, all across South Korea as more of a lighter bite; but it can quickly and easily stretch into a heartier main course.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 8 minutes to 10 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • About 5 1/2 ounces

    frozen fried fish cake sheets (3 to 4), such as Choripdong

  • 10 ounces

    frozen Korean rice cake sticks (30 to 32), such as Hansang (see Recipe Notes)

  • 3

    medium scallions

  • 3 1/2 cups

    water

  • 5

    medium (about 5-inch) dried anchovies

  • 1

    (about 4x1-inch) piece dried kombu

  • 1

    (about 4.2-ounce) package Korean instant ramen noodles, such as Nongshim Shin Original Ramyun

  • 2 tablespoons

    gochujang pepper paste

  • 2 tablespoons

    oligo syrup or light corn syrup

  • 1 tablespoon

    gochugaru red chili powder, preferably fine

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    roasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Let 5 1/2 ounces fried fish cake sheets (3 to 4) and 10 ounces frozen rice cakes sit at room temperature until thawed. (Alternatively, place the rice cakes in a medium bowl, cover with cold water, and set aside to thaw for 10 minutes. Drain before using.)

  2. Cut the greens from 3 medium scallions crosswise on a slight diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide pieces (save the whites for another use). Cut the fish cake sheets crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips.

  3. Place 3 1/2 cups water, 5 dried anchovies, and 1 (about 4x1-inch) piece kombu in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove the anchovies and kombu with a slotted spoon and discard.

  4. Add 1 block instant ramen noodles (discard the seasoning packet) to the pot and cook, stirring to separate the noodles, for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the noodles to a bowl.

  5. Add 2 tablespoons gochujang, 2 tablespoons oligo or light corn syrup, and 1 tablespoon gochugaru chili powder to the pot, and stir until fully dissolved. Add the rice cakes and fish cakes and cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, until heated through and the flavors start to meld, about 2 minutes.

  6. Return the noodles to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Taste and season with kosher salt as needed. Top with the scallions and 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds. Divide the tteokbokki between bowls or serve straight from the pan; the sauce will thicken slightly as it sits.

Recipe Notes

Rice cakes: There are two types of Korean rice cakes: one made entirely from rice and another made of rice and wheat flour. Both are interchangeable and are available at Asian or Korean markets. If you follow a gluten-free diet, use cakes fully made out of rice.

Ramen: Any type of Korean instant ramen noodle block will work. I only stress Korean instant ramen here because the noodles tend to have a thicker diameter and are excellent for clinging onto the tteokbokki sauce.

Using the ramen seasoning packet: If you cannot find dried anchovies and kombu, you can save the soup packet from the instant ramen and use that instead.