Trader Joe’s Tteok Bok Ki, Korean Spicy Stir Fried Rice Cakes Review – Trader Joe’s always searching the ends of the earth for the latest and greatest food trends. This time they turn their attention to Korea for a dish called Tteobokki (Although Trader Joe’s splits up the name as Tteok Bok Ki, according to people that know, either will work). This was all the buzz on Reddit a few weeks ago. People were freaking out about this product because from the packaging it looks awesome. Plus it’s VEGAN which is always a plus.
I won’t go too deep into the history of this dish. It belongs to a class of dishes in Korea of rice and fish cakes. Boiled or fried and mixed with a variety of sauces. If you know anything about Korean food is that they like it very hot. Gochujang is the favorite hot sauce in Korea. It’s usually very hot for western tastes. When you mixed these cylindrical rice “cakes” with Gochujang you have Tteok Bok Ki. It’s a favorite street food in Korea.
I was pretty excited to try this because of all the buzz, but I know Korean food pretty well and I was worried about how hot it was going to be. As I’ve said here many times, I like hot food but not mouth numbing hot that a lot of people seek out.
This is a pretty simple dish to make. There are just the rice “cakes”, actually cylinders of rice cakes, and a package of what looks like ketchup but is actually the hot sauce. To make it you put everything in a small pot or sauce pan and heat it up and until the sauce has thickened and the cakes are cooked through. It takes about 10 minutes. There is an optional method of cooking these either in oil in a skillet or in an air fryer. I’m sure frying them makes the rice cakes crispy but I wanted to try the simple method first.
Honestly, I looked like penne in tomato sauce, but the aroma was much different. I was very curious how those rice tubes would be like when I ate them. Would they be hard or mushy or what. Also, considering how red that sauce is, my sense was that Trader Joe’s really pulled out the stops on this and made it extra hot.
I was not disappointed. I could barely eat one of the rice cakes and then I had to rinse my mouth out with milk and peanuts to calm down the fire. I wish I had read other people’s reviews on this Trader Joe’s Tteok Bok Ki spicy rice cakes but I don’t usually like to do that so I don’t get any influence on my reviews. I saw, after the fact, that many people said it was super hot and to only add half the packet of sauce. But that’s not how we roll here in Club Trader Joe’s, we almost always go with the original recipes first.
Anyway, with my mouth on fire, I tried to put that aside and figure out how the rice cakes fared. To be honest I was underwhelmed by the whole thing. Rice cakes felt like overcooked pasta in my mouth and the hot sauce was mouth numbingly hot. I’m sure the Koreans love this stuff but for many of us Western eaters, it was too much.
At the end of the day, I am going to give this 5 bells. I appreciate Trader Joe’s introducing Americans to this food, but at the same time, they need to take their foot off the gas on the heat. One upside is it brings another vegan dish to Trader Joe’s. But, it just isn’t all that great. I’ve eaten food all over the world and this is just meh.
COOK FROM FROZEN
STOVETOP: Add 1 cup of water and contents of sauce packet
to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
Stir in the rice cakes. Simmer over medium heat, siring
occasionally, until the rice cakes are cooked through and the
sauce is thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
For Extra Crispy Rice Cakes:
SKILLET (rice cakes): Remove the rice cakes from the packet
and soak in room temperature water for 15 minutes. Pat dry
and set aside. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and ado
the rice cakes. Sear rice cakes for 2-3 mindtes on each side
until crisp, then add to the heated sauce and serve.
AIR FRYER (rice cakes): Remove frozen rice cakes from the
packet and coat with cooking oil. Air try at 400°F for 3
minutes. Toss and air fry for an additional 3 minutes. Add the
rice cakes to the heated sauce and serve.
RICE CAKES (RICE, WATER),
WATER, BROWN SUGAR, RED PEPPER, SOY
SAUCE (WATER, FERMENTED SOYBEANS, SALT,
ALCOHOL [TO PRESERVE]), SCALLIONS, RED
PEPPER PASTE (RICE, TAPIOCA SYRUP, HOT
RED PEPPER SEASONING RED PEPPER
POWDER, WATER, SALT, GARLIC, OMION}
WATER, SALT, ALCOHOL [TO PRESERVE),
TOASTED SESAME SEEDS, MODIFIED
CORNSTARCH, SALT, GARLIC POWDER,
BLACK PEPPER, ONION POWDER, SESAME OIL.
CONTAINS SOY, SESAME.
MAY CONTAIN WHEAT,
PRODUCT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA