Rice Is The Star Of This Korean Comfort Food

Rice is a staple food in many different cultures. Rice often is a popular side dish or even featured prominently as part of an entrée.

Tteok is found in sweet and savory Korean dishes. Tteok are rice cakes made from rice that is steamed and pounded to form a product that is distinctively chewy. Most tteok are rolled into cylinders and cut into pieces, or sliced thinly on a diagonal. The rice cakes are available at retailers both fresh and frozen, and can be eaten out of hand or added to stir-frys or even fried to a crispy texture.

This recipe for “Royal Tteokbokki” from “Judy Joo’s Korean Soul Food” (White Lion) is a stir-fry comfort food that hails from the royal court of the Chosun dynasty.

Royal Tteokbokki
Serves 4

1 pound beef rib eye, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small firm but ripe pear, grated
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus a drizzle for the stir-fry
5 garlic cloves, grated
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds, crushed
1⁄4 teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

Stir fry
10 ounces tteok (thin rice cake batons)
2 ounces baby onions, peeled and quartered
33⁄4 ounces mixed wild mushrooms
1 rainbow carrot, peeled and julienned
31⁄2 ounces baby leeks, trimmed and cut lengthways into quarters
3 ounces baby corn, cut length-wise into quarters

To serve
1 sprig onion
1 quail egg, soft boiled
Pinch of black sesame seeds

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Meanwhile, cut the spring onion length-wise into thin strips and soak in iced water until curled, then drain.

4. About 30 minutes before cooking, place the tteok in a large bowl with enough water to cover them. Leave them to rehydrate.

5. 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 medium heat. Add the baby onions and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms, carrot, baby leeks and baby corn, and cook for a further 5 minutes until slightly softened.

6. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the beef, marinade rehydrated tteok, and the retained water. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is medium rare, and slightly pink in the center. 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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