Gungjung Tteokbokki (Korean Royal Court Rice Cake)

Gungjung tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake)

The lunar New Year (Seollal) falls on Friday, January 31 this year. To help you celebrate the New Year, I’ve rounded up traditional New Year dishes. I am also introducing gungjung tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) with slight changes to the recipe.

Gungjung tteokbokki (궁중떡볶이) is the traditional version of tteokbokki. Gungjung means “royal court” in Korean, and this version dates back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

As the name suggests, it was part of the royal cuisine and regarded as a high class dish – an interesting contrast to the modern spicy version which is pretty much street food. One story behind the origin of this royal dish is that it was inspired by japchae (stir-fried starch noodles with vegetables) and created to help regain the King’s appetite. In fact, gungjung tteokbokki is also known as tteokjapchae (떡잡채) perhaps because it is made in a similar fashion to japchae.

Unlike today’s spicy version, the traditional version is mildly flavored with a soy sauce based sauce. As such, it’s also called ganjang tteokbokki (간장떡볶이). Ganjang means soy sauce. 

This deliciously colorful dish will be a great addition to your lunar New Year feast!

Happy New Year to you and your family, everyone! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Gungjung tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake)
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5 from 7 votes

Gungjung Tteokbokki (Korean Royal Court Rice Cake)

Korean rice cake dish that originated from royal court cuisine! Mildly flavored with a soy sauce based sauce.
Author: Hyosun

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thin garaetteok/tteokbokki tteok about 2-inch long pieces
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 4 ounces lean beef sirloin, eye round or rib eye
  • 3 or 4 shiitake mushrooms fresh or soaked if dried
  • 1/2 medium zucchini* about 4 ounces
  • 1 medium carrot* cut into thin, 2-inch strips
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 scallions cut into 2-inch lengths
  • salt
  • vegetable or canola oil
  • *You can also use garlic chives and/or colorful bell peppers.

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine or mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • pinch pepper
  • Optional garnish:
  • ginkgo nuts or pine nuts

Instructions

  • Bring water to a boil in a medium size pot. Add the rice cake pieces. Boil until all the pieces float to the top. The time required will vary depending on the condition of rice cakes. The rice cakes will be very soft when cooked, but they will become harder as they cool. Drain them out with a sieve. Do not rinse. Mix with a tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Set aside.
    Gungjung tteokbokki (Korean Royal Court Rice Cakes)
  • Mix the sauce ingredients well and set aside. Thinly slice the beef into about 2-inch long strips. Cut stems off the mushrooms and slice into thin strips. Place the beef and mushrooms in a bowl, and mix in a tablespoon of the prepared sauce. Marinate while preparing the other ingredients.
    gungjung tteokbokki
  • Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then thinly slice crosswise and slightly diagonally to make the cuts longer. Generously sprinkle salt over zucchini slices, and set aside for 10 - 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid from the zucchini by hand. In a lightly heated and oiled skillet, stir fry the onion, carrot, and zucchini over medium high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the scallion at the end (not in the photo). Transfer to a bowl.
    Gungjung tteokbokki
  • In the same skillet, cook the beef and mushrooms over medium high heat until the meat is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the rice cakes and stir fry for another minute or two. Turn the heat off. 
    Gungjung tteokbokki (Korean Royal Court Rice Cakes)
  • Add the rice cakes to the bowl with the vegetables, along with the optional ginkgo or pine nuts, and the remaining sauce. Toss well to combine everything well. Adjust the seasoning with additional soy sauce or sugar as necessary. Serve warm.
    Gungjung tteokbokki (Korean Royal Court Rice Cakes)
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