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Carbonara Tteokbokki (20 Minutes)

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Carbonara Tteokbokki is a fantastic fusion of Korean and Italian cuisines. Imagine tender, chewy rice cakes slathered in rich, creamy carbonara sauce, boasting savory bacon bits, tasty parmesan cheese, and a hint of black pepper, creating a tantalizing symphony of flavors!

tteokbokki with carbonara sauce and bacon in a plate

In Korea, tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes) can be found at street food stalls. You’ll usually find the spicy version but carbonara tteokbokki is an adaptation that has been made popular on social media.

My Korean family and I are not fans of traditional tteokbokki, so we rarely buy or make it. However, the other day, I wanted to use my knowledge of carbonara sauce (learned in Italy) to mix it with rice cakes (garaetteok) and try carbonara tteokbokki. My sister who had never tried it fell in love with it! 🙂 It was harder to convince my mom who usually only cooks and eats healthy Korean food.

Italians would say a resounding “no no” to using cream or bacon in authentic carbonara sauce, and I agree, as traditional carbonara spaghetti does not include these ingredients. However, adding cream creates a thicker and creamier sauce that pairs perfectly with Korean rice cakes, elevating the fusion dish to a whole new level.

What is tteokbokki?

Tteokbokki is a popular Korean dish made with chewy rice cakes, known as garaetteok (a type of tteok, rice cake) that are cooked in a spicy, savory sauce. It is typically made with gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), along with other ingredients such as fish cakes, vegetables, and sometimes boiled eggs.

Tteokbokki is known for its bold flavors, with a hint of heat from the gochujang, and its satisfyingly chewy texture. It’s a beloved street food in Korea, often enjoyed as a snack or a meal, and has gained popularity worldwide for its unique taste and mouthwatering appeal.

In this recipe, we’re giving a fusion twist to this classic Korean dish! It’s also ideal for those who enjoy rice cakes but prefer milder flavors without the heat.

carbonara tteokbokki with bacon

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE

  • Quick and easy. With just a few simple ingredients, carbonara tteokbokki can be easily made at home, making it a convenient and satisfying option for a quick and delicious one-pot meal or snack. Ready in 20 minutes.
  • Non-spicy alternative to traditional tteokbokki. If you’re looking for a variation from the traditional spicy tteokbokki or just can’t handle spicy food, this tteobokki recipe is for you.
  • Comforting and crave-worthy. The addition of cream in the carbonara sauce creates a luscious, velvety texture that pairs perfectly with the chewiness of the rice cakes, making it a great comfort food dish.
  • Budget-friendly Option. Making carbonara tteokbokki at home can be a budget-friendly option as it requires simple and affordable ingredients such as rice cakes, eggs, bacon or other readily available ingredients.

Ingredients

  • egg yolks – in authentic carbonara sauce, some egg whites are added to thicken the sauce. However, since we’re adding cream in this recipe, egg yolks are sufficient. Even though the sauce is cooked, it’s important to use fresh eggs.
  • heavy cream – adding cream to the sauce gives an extra creamy texture that pairs perfectly with the chewy texture of the rice cakes.
  • parmesan powder – make sure you use a good brand. I find that a lot of parmesan powders found in supermarkets can be weak in taste. Alternatively, you can buy a parmesan block and grate it yourself. Make sure you do not substitute with Grana Padano which can often be mistaken for parmesan but has a much milder taste.
  • black pepper – if possible, use freshly ground pepper instead of pre-ground black pepper powder. Don’t be too shy about black pepper. It’s important to add a little more than your usual seasoning since black pepper is an important element of carbonara.
  • bacon – this recipe is more Korean than Italian therefore it is fine to use bacon, which is easier to find and cheaper than guanciale or pancetta. But if you’d like to go closer to the Italian version of carbonara, then use guanciale or pancetta.
  • onion – mince the onion thinly.
  • garlic – mince the garlic or crush it using a garlic press (like I usually do) to extract the juice.
  • Korean rice cakes – I used cylinder rice cakes but you can use the smaller oval rice cakes if you like. Try to use either fresh or refrigerated rice cakes. In case you use frozen rice cakes, make sure to soak them in cold water for 15 minutes before cooking them.
  • water – adding some water helps dissolve the egg yolk/parmesan mixture, creating a luscious sauce.
carbonara tteokbokki ingredients

Which rice cakes should I use?

  • Fresh – fresh rice cakes are soft, moist, and have a slightly chewy texture. They are usually made from freshly ground rice batter and have a subtle, mild flavor. If you prefer a softer and more tender texture for your tteokbokki, fresh garaetteok may be the best option. Shelf life is usually a few days.
  • Refrigerated – refrigerated rice cakes are typically firmer than fresh ones and have a slightly drier texture. They are often stored in the refrigerator section of the grocery store and have a longer shelf life (1-2 weeks) compared to fresh garaetteok.
  • Frozen – frozen rice cakes are typically firm and solid, as they are kept frozen to extend their shelf life. They may require soaking in water to soften before using in recipes. Frozen garaetteok are a convenient option for longer storage, they can usually be kept for up to 6 months.

The choice between fresh, refrigerated, or frozen garaetteok for tteokbokki depends on personal preference and the desired texture you want to achieve. However, when it comes to freshness, using fresh garaetteok is always the best option.

How To Make Carbonara Tteokbokki?

  1. In a bowl, mix egg yolks, heavy cream, parmesan and black pepper.
  2. In a pan, cook the bacon on medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan.
  3. Add some cooking oil to the pan and cook onion and garlic.
  4. Add the rice cakes and water and cook for 1-2 minutes until they become soft.
  5. Add the egg/parmesan mixture, then add the bacon back in and cook for 1-2 more minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  6. Sprinkle extra bacon pieces on top.
4 photos showing step by step how to make carbonara tteokbokki

Substitutions and Additions

  • Non-dairy cream – if you’re dairy intolerant or vegan, you can use a dairy-free cream.
  • Guanciale or pancetta – to come closer to the Italian version of carbonara, you can substitute bacon with guanciale or pancetta, even better!
  • Mushrooms – mushrooms go very well with bacon and this carbonara sauce, so for your dose of daily vegetables, feel free to add some sliced mushrooms.

Variations

  • Vegetarian Carbonara Tteokbokki – omit the bacon for a vegetarian version.
  • Spicy Carbonara Tteokbokki – if you enjoy spicy food (just like me), you can add chopped red or green chili peppers to the sauce for a fiery kick. Use small chili peppers, as the larger ones are usually not as spicy. I usually add chili pepper to my carbonara, whether with spaghetti or rice cakes 🙂

How To Store and Reheat?

Storing

If you have leftover tteokbokki, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Make sure the sauce and rice cakes are fully cooled before storing.

Reheating

To reheat tteokbokki, transfer it to a saucepan or skillet and add a little water to loosen the sauce. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Avoid overcooking the rice cakes to prevent them from becoming too soft.

You can also reheat tteokbokki in the microwave. Transfer it to a microwave-safe dish and heat on high stirring occasionally, until heated through.

Emma’s Tips

  • Soak rice cakes – if using frozen rice cakes, soak them in water for about 15 minutes before cooking to soften them and improve their texture. Drain and rinse them before adding them to the sauce.
  • Don’t overcook rice cakes – be careful not to overcook the rice cakes, as they can become too soft and lose their chewy texture. Cook them just until they are tender but still have a slight bite.
  • Use a wide pan – use a wide pan or skillet with a flat bottom to ensure that the rice cakes cook evenly and get coated with the sauce. This will help prevent them from sticking to the pan or clumping together.
  • Garnish for flavor – garnish your tteokbokki with extra crispy bacon and parmesan.
  • Serve hot – tteokbokki is best served hot, straight from the pan for the best taste and texture.

RECIPE FAQ

For this recipe, use cylinder or oval-shaped rice cakes.

Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as different rice cakes may require different cooking times to achieve the desired texture.

While it is possible to freeze tteokbokki for later use, it is generally not recommended as it can affect the texture and quality of the dish.

The rice cakes in tteokbokki are made from rice flour, and freezing them can cause them to become hard and lose their chewy texture when thawed and reheated. Additionally, the other ingredients in the dish, such as the sauce, bacon, onions, and garlic, may also lose their flavor and texture when frozen.

If you bought refrigerated rice cakes, make sure not to freeze them. Freezing can cause them to break or crack due to the formation of ice crystals during the freezing process. When rice cakes are frozen, the moisture inside them can freeze and expand, leading to the formation of ice crystals. These ice crystals can cause the rice cake to become brittle and more prone to breaking or cracking when they are thawed or cooked.

You can find them in any Korean grocery store, or buy them online. You can also make them from scratch.

tteokbokki with carbonara sauce and bacon in a plate
Korean tteokbokki with carbonara sauce and crispy bacon

Carbonara Tteokbokki (20 Minutes)

Carbonara Tteokbokki is a fantastic fusion of Korean and Italian cuisines. Imagine tender, chewy rice cakes slathered in rich, creamy carbonara sauce, boasting savory bacon bits, tasty parmesan cheese, and a hint of black pepper, creating a tantalizing symphony of flavors!
5 from 7 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Korean
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 19 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories per serving: 1551kcal
Author: Emma Choi

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 120 ml heavy cream
  • 100 g parmesan powder
  • black pepper
  • 12 bacon slices , chopped
  • 1 onion , minced
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 700 g Korean rice cakes
  • 360 ml water
  • cooking oil

Instructions

  • In a bowl, mix egg yolks, heavy cream, parmesan and black pepper.
  • In a pan, cook the bacon on medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan.
  • Add some cooking oil to the pan and cook onion and garlic.
  • Add the rice cakes and water and cook for 1-2 minutes until they become soft.
  • Add the egg/parmesan mixture, then add the bacon back in and cook for 1-2 more minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  • Sprinkle extra bacon pieces on top.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 2 servingsCalories: 1551kcalCarbohydrates: 196gProtein: 50gFat: 61gSaturated Fat: 30gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 354mgSodium: 1718mgPotassium: 678mgFiber: 6gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1599IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 559mgIron: 2mg
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