Royal Tteokbokki (non-spicy Korean rice cakes)
What is in Royal Tteokbokki?
Gungjung or Royal Tteokbokki takes a more refined approach than its popular, spicy counterpart. It has no chillies at all, and instead boasts a colorful medley of vegetables and marinated beef which is tossed in a salty/sweet soy sauce with black pepper undertones.
It's super quick to make, and it's my go-to stir-fry when cooking for the entire family.
What are the different types of Tteokbokki?
Tteokbokki, derived from the Korean words "tteok" (떡) meaning rice cake and "bokki" (볶이) meaning fried, essentially translates to "stir-fried rice cakes" in English.
If you're familiar with Korean cuisine, you've likely encountered spicy tteokbokki, primarily characterized by its cylindrical white rice cakes, Korean fish cakes, and bold spicy sauce.
Although the spicy version of tteokbokki is better known, the original version is called Royal Tteokbokk or Gungjung Tteokbokki and hails from the royal court of the Joseon dynasty. It was considered a fancy haute cuisine and predates the use of hot peppers in Korean cuisine, which is why it's not spicy.
Over time, people added spice using gochujang. However, it was after the Korean War when a modest shop in Seoul gained fame for offering an affordable snack of spicy tteokbokki. This marked the inception of the spicy tteokbokki which has since gained immense popularity.
Discover each ingredient and where to buy it by clicking on the ingredient links below.
- 450g (1lb) beef rib eye, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 5mm/.in thick)
- 1 small firm but ripe pear, grated
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp roasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus a drizzle for the stir-fry
- 5 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds, crushed
- ¼ tsp ginger, peeled and grated
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 280g (10oz) tteok (thin rice cake batons)
- 50g (2oz) baby onions, peeled and quartered
- 120g (3.oz) mixed wild mushrooms (I like to use 2 large oyster mushrooms, sliced, with ½ bunch enoki mushrooms)
- 1 rainbow carrot, peeled and julienned
- 100g (3.oz) baby leeks, trimmed and cut lengthways into quarters
- 80g (3oz) baby corn, cut lengthways into quarters
- 1 spring onion
- 1 quail egg, soft boiled
- a pinch of black sesame seeds
In a shallow dish, combine the beef, pear and brown sugar and massage with your hands to thoroughly combine. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, garlic, crushed sesame seeds, ginger and black pepper. Set aside.
When the beef is ready, use your hands to shake off and squeeze out any excess sugary liquid, then add the beef to the soy sauce marinade. Toss to coat, cover and marinate for about 30 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.
Meanwhile, cut the spring onion lengthways into thin strips and soak in iced water until curled, then drain. About 30 minutes before cooking, place the tteok in a large bowl with enough water to cover them. Leave them to rehydrate.
Once the tteok are rehydrated, remove from the water, retaining 4 tablespoons of liquid. Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the baby onions and cook for 6–8 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms, carrot, baby leeks and baby corn and cook for a further 5 minutes until slightly softened.
Increase the heat to medium–high, add the beef, marinade rehydrated tteok and the retained water. Cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is medium rare, and slightly pink in the centre. Transfer to a serving plate, and arrange the spring onion and quail egg on top. Finish with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds.
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