We will focus on a dish called Gungjung Tteokbokki today. The literal translation would be Gungjung (palace or royal court) tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake). It is the traditional version of the tteokbokki with meat, vegetables and soy sauce, which happens to be my favorite kind. It is one of the traditional dishes that is enjoyed during the Lunar New Year celebration.
The Wikipedia article on tteokbokki explains its history: “According to bibliographic data, the first tteokbokki in Korean history is said to appear in a cook book called “시의정서 (Siui jeongseo)” written in the late Joseon dynasty. However, based on the fact that tteok (the main ingredient, also known as rice cake) was produced even before in the Three Kingdoms period, it's possible to assume that the history is longer than what's usually considered. Tteokbokki can also be found in medical records: a book called “신뇨찬요 (Shingnyo chanyo)” written by Jeon Sunui, a medical officer in the Joseon dynasty (1460). The purpose of the book was to cure people through food and tteokbokki was part of it.”
The name may give off an impression of a very sophisticated, difficult dish, but it is easier to make than you might think! Here is an excellent recipe with simple ingredients, from a blog called Korean Bapsang, a Korean mom’s home cooking, an excellent source for great recipes!
Here is a recommendation of a restaurant for those of you that want to experience authentic Korean delicacies, including the Gungjung Tteokbokki. If you are in the Central Jersey area, you should definitely try Chung Sol Bat in Edison, NJ.
Photo from the Korean Bapsang blog