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08 Jun 2023

Su Scott’s Tteok kkochi (crispy rice cake skewers)

Su Scott’s Tteok kkochi (crispy rice cake skewers)

This is my all-time favourite dish from childhood, when the sky was painted in deep shades of ocean-blue and the summer evenings felt generous and bright, abundantly studded with shining stars that made me dream about tomorrow. The air was humid and sweet with magical energy and the breath of youth. 

A single stick of deep-fried rice cake licked with sunset-orange ketchup glaze after school was my first taste of sugar-coated spice. The sauce was so deliciously sweet and spicy from the subtle hum of gochujang, which meant some children liked to lick it all off first. If you’re anything like me, you’d have carefully bitten into the hot crispy rice cake, savouring the glaze and letting the satisfyingly chewy interior hug your tongue and make it dance with happiness. 

The glaze is quite generous and you’ll have some left over: it keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge. Cylinder-shaped rice cakes can be found in fridge or freezer sections of Asian grocers and also online. Occasionally, if you’re lucky, you may also come across freshly made rice cakes, or rice cakes made from flour. All of these will work absolutely fine. If you can only find thinly sliced ones, just omit the skewering.

Makes: 4 skewers 
Takes: 35 mins 

16 tteokbokki rice cakes (about 225g) 
3 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying 
toasted white sesame seeds, to finish (optional) 

For the glaze 
3 tbsp tomato ketchup  
2 tbsp golden granulated sugar 
1 tbsp gochujang (Korean red chilli paste) 
1 tbsp soy sauce 
1 tsp perilla oil 
1 garlic clove, minced 

You’ll need 
4 short wooden skewers


  1. Soak the wooden skewers in cold water for 30 mins. If using frozen rice cakes, soak them in cold water for 10 mins to soften.  

  2. Blanch the rice cakes in boiling water for 1 min, then drain and rinse with cold water. Pat dry with kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture, then skewer 4 rice cakes onto each pre-soaked skewer. 

  3. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan with 60ml water and set over a medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 mins to thicken the sauce. Check the seasoning — it should taste assertively sweet with a gentle tanginess and background heat. Set aside. 

  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Carefully place the rice cake skewers into the frying pan and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until cooked through and deliciously golden (don’t be tempted to fry the skewers at a high temperature as the moisture inside rice cakes means they can expand and burst — shallow-frying at a lower temperature minimizes the risk). 

  5. Remove from the heat once the skewers are fried crisp and golden. Brush them generously on both sides with the glaze and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds, if using. Serve immediately while warm. 


Extract from The Rice Table by Su Scott (£27, Quadrille)  

Photography by Toby Scott 


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