Asian Dishes

Recipe: Korean Rice Cake Soup, 떡국 Tteokguk

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This week on Cooking with Auntie, we learned a new Korean Lunar New Year’s recipe called 떡국 Tteokguk aka Rice Cake Soup. The Korean Lunar New Year comes on January 28th this year and while we don’t know much about it (I would love to learn more!) I have learned that it is a special holiday, called Seollal.

In Korea, when you are born you are considered a year old and age again with the new year and it is traditional to eat a rice cake soup called 떡국 (Tteokguk). So on Seollal, when someone askes if you had rice cake soup today, it means “are you one year older?”

The translation of this dish, 떡국 tteokguk has about a hundred different romanizations, but it is. So. Dang. Good. And very much worth a special trip to your local Korean market for rice cakes! If you don’t live near an Asian market, you can buy Korean Rice Cakes here.


When I first mentioned rice cakes, I got confused looks all around. Everybody is used to those bland, crunchy pucks we associate with fad diets. Not the case, here! Korean rice cakes are chewy and fun to eat.

We got our recipe from one of my favorite recipe bloggers named Maangchi. According to Maangchi’s website, 떡국 (Tteokguk) is eaten on Lunar New Year’s day. The white color of the sliced rice cakes to represent purity and a fresh start, the shape of them to represent coins, a symbol of success. An excellent way to welcome the new year if you ask me.

JJ did excellent work this week and I am so proud. His cuts still aren’t quite uniformed as they need to be, he only needed a little guidance and a bit of help to chop the garlic when we realized we forgot it and it needed to get in the pot ASAP. He’s turning into quite the junior chef.

떡국 Tteokguk, Rice Cake Soup

Recipe by Maangchi, photos by The Vintage Tart. Any changes made by me are in parentheses.

Ingredients (2-3 servings)

  • 1 pound sliced tteok rice cakes (or homemade) soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 7 cups water
  • ½ pound beef (flank steak or brisket), chopped into small pieces
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dae-pa large green onions (or 3 green onions), washed and sliced thinly and diagonally.
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soup soy sauce to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 sheet of kim (black seaweed paper)
  • 1 red pepper (optional), chopped

Directions

  1. (Soak your rice cakes and slice up your beef) 
  2. Put the water in a heavy pot, cover, and bring it to a vigorous boil over high heat for 12 to 15 minutes.
  3. Add the beef and garlic and lower the heat to medium. Cover and let it boil for 20 to 25 minutes more, until you get a delicious broth.
  4. Roast both sides of a sheet of gim until it’s bright green and very crispy. Put it in a plastic bag and crush it by hand. Set aside. (We used a pre roasted seaweed snack package from Costco. You can pick one up just about anywhere for about $1)
  5. Separate the egg yolks from the whites of two eggs, putting yolks and whites into separate bowls. Add pinch of salt to each and mix with a fork. Remove the stringy chalaza from the yolks.
  6. Add the cooking oil to a heated non-stick pan. Swirl the oil around so it covers the pan, and then wipe off the excess with a kitchen towel, leaving a thin oily layer on the pan.
  7. Turn off the heat. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan and tilt it so it spreads evenly and thinly. Let it cook on the hot pan for about 1 minute. Flip it over and let it sit on the pan for another minute, then take it off, slice it into thin strips and set it aside. 
    Perfectly flipping the egg yolk with a chopstick, just like Maagnchi!
  8. Add the rice cake to the boiling soup along with fish sauce, salt, and sliced green onion. Stir it with a ladle. Cover and let it cook for 7 to 8 minutes until all the rice cakes are floating. Pour the salted egg whites into the boiling soup and let it cook for a minute. 
  9. Add sesame oil, ground black pepper, and chopped green onion. Stir it well. Remove it from the heat and ladle the rice cake soup into indivudual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped green onion, yellow egg strips, crushed seaweed, and red pepper if you want. 
  10. Serve it right away, with kimchi and more side dishes if you want. If you wait too long the rice cakes will get soggy, so everybody dig in and enjoy! 

My Notes: We added a bit of soy sauce (liquid aminos, a soy sauce substitute) to each of our bowls after tasting it. It served three adults and two kids and even though I don’t like seaweed snacks, I liked them in the dish.

JJ cooked almost everything and garnished beautifully, just like Maangchi!

What are your New Year’s traditions?

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