Tteokguk 떡국 (Rice Cake Soup)

Lunar New Year (Seollal) wouldn’t be complete without a mandatory bowl of tteokguk 떡국 (rice cake soup), a dish that every Korean must eat for a prosperous new year. Fortunately, I got to learn how to make this auspicious dish from an elderly couple who run a small shop near my workplace in Yangjae. The decades-old shop utilizes a dried anchovy and kelp-based broth, but the photogenic halmoni (see the last pic) told me how to make an easier version using beef. Both broths are included below, each serving two hungry adults. 😊

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rice cakes
  • 3 packs sagol yuksu (ready-made beef bone broth)
  • 100 grams of ribeye or ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • gim (seaweed), garnish
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tbsp dashida (instant beef soup stock)
  • a dash of salt and pepper

Ingredients: anchovy based stock

  • 1 handful myulchi (dried anchovies)
  • 1 sheet of dashima (dried kelp)
  • 200 grams radish, cut into chunks
  • 1 large leek, halved
  • 1/2 onion
  • dried red chili peppers (optional)
  • dried baby shrimps (optional)
  • dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)

Directions:

1.Rinse two large handfuls of rice cakes (approx. 4 cups) under cold water for a few minutes. If frozen, soak in cold water for 15 min before use.

2. Prepare 100 grams (or more) of diced ribeye or ground beef, season lightly with salt, pepper, and sugar. In a large pot, add 1 tbsp sesame oil and a dash of soy sauce. Sauté the beef until slightly charred. Set aside.

3. Add 3 packs of ready-made sagol yuksu/gomtang (beef bone broth, 350mlx3), which can be bought at your local Korean mart. If not available, approx. 4 cups of water may be used in place.

4. To make traditional myulchi yuksu (dried anchovy and kelp broth), bring 1.5 L of water to a rapid boil. Add a handful of myulchi, a sheet of dashima (kelp), chunks of radish (200 g), one large leek (root included), and a halved onion. Optional ingredients are dried red chilies, dried baby shrimp, and dried shiitake mushrooms. Boil for 10 min, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 min. Strain the broth and taste. If pungent or overly fishy, add 1/2 cup of cheongju (rice wine).

5. Add broth to the pot. Bring to a boil and add rice cakes, 4 cloves of finely minced garlic, diced green onions, dash of salt and pepper, and 1/2 tbsp of semi-secret ingredient: dashida (beef soup stock).

6. Once rice cakes float to the top, add one well-beaten egg in a circular motion (don’t stir the soup until it solidifies).

7. Season to taste with soy sauce or salt.

8. Ladle into bowls and top with beef and gim (seaweed), finished off with sesame oil.

9. Eat well and have a happy new year! 

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