Tteokguk (Rice Cake Soup, 떡국) – NYD’s must-eat dish

Tteokguk is a soup made with sliced rice cakes, usually in beef broth. It's a traditional must-eat New Year's dish in Korea.

"Tteok" means rice cake, and "guk" indicates soup. The type of rice cake used for this soup is called garaetteok, whici is unsweetened and looks like a white water hose. But nowadays you can get already sliced garaetteok (rice cake) from any Korean grocery shop; even in Korea, making the soup preparation much easy. Often, Koreans add mandu (Korean dumplings) to tteokguk, in which case the soup is called tteok-manduguk. You can use any kind of mandu in the soup.

This starchy and soothing bowl of soup is not only a New Year's tradition but is classic comfort food any time of the year!

 

Ingredients (4 serving):

 

Beef Broth (for non-meat broth, use anchovy broth or dash) 1/2 lb (250g) beef brisket 1/2 onion 6 - 8 cloves of garlic 3 scallions (shallot/spring onion) 1 tablespoon soup soy sauce (Korean soy sauce) Salt and pepper to taste *To make anchovy broth(Boil 1 cup dried anchovies and dried kelp (3 4-inch square pieces) in 10 cups of water for 10 minutes.) 4 cups sliced rice cake (also called “sliced rice noodle and available at any Korean grocery shop) 

*12 -16 pieces mandu (Korean dumplings) – optional (you can make your own mandu or can get already made mandu from Korean groceries. Its taste is quite different from Chinese dumplings.

There are two types of mandu: the one made with kimchi and the other with meat. Garnish Beef removed from the broth 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil salt and pepper 1 egg 1 scallion 1/2 sheet shredded dry seaweed sheet (called ‘nori’)

 

Instructions In a large pot, bring the meat, onion, scallions (spring onion) and garlic to a boil in 10 cups of water. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for at least an hour until the meat is tender enough for shredding. Remove the meat and cool. Strain the broth, and discard the vegetables. While the broth is simmering, soak rice cake (sliced rice noodle) slices in cold water for 20 -30 minutes and drain. Shred the cooled beef into thin 1 - 1 1/2-inch long strips and mix well with garlic, sesame oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To make egg garnish, separate the egg and whisk each part well. Heat a lightly oiled small non stick fry pan over medium-high heat and pour each egg part into a thin layer, tilting the pan (similar to making crepe). Cook each side until no visible egg liquid remains. (Do not brown the egg.) Slice into 1 1/2-inch long thin strips. Set aside.

*(Although this is a classic garnish for tteokguk, a common alternative is to drizzle a lightly beaten egg over the boiling soup right before turning the heat off. Or you can omit the egg part entirely if you like.) Slice the spring onion diagonally into thin strips. Roast the seaweed sheet (nori) on a hot fry pan and cut into thin 1 1/2-inch strips. (You can buy already made one from Korean grocery shop). Set aside. Return the broth to a boil and stir in soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Add the rice cake slices and boil until soft, usually about 8-10 minutes. (You can separately parboil rice cakes in boiling water and then add to the broth if you don't like the soup to be too thick from starch.) Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to a boil to cook mandu separately.

* Add mandu, stirring gently so they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Boil until all of them float, and simmer for additional 2 or 3 minutes over medium low heat. Drain mandu out and add to the soup when the rice cake slices are cooked. *(Since rice cakes and mandu take different cooking time, it's better to cook mandu separately. Usually, tteok slices are more resilient, and it's a common mistake to overcook mandu by boiling everything together, resulting in soggy/torn skins. Also, the soup will get too thick from all the starch released from rice cake and mandu.) Ladle the steaming soup into bowls and garnish with shredded beef, egg, scallion (spring onion) and dried seaweed sheet(gim) strips.

 

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