Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

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Note to self: With the upcoming New Year I decided to make Tteokguk, a Korean rice cake soup that’s traditionally eaten on Seollal, the Korean new year. It lands on the first day of the Lunar calendar and it usually coincides with the Chinese new year. I never tried it or heard of it until Moudi introduced me to it. We came across this recipe on maangchi.com while we were browsing food recipes and looking up YouTube videos. He had mentioned how delicious it is and how he hasn’t had it in years so I decided to try and make it for him. The story behind it is that “the whiteness of the soup symbolizes a clean, fresh start to the new year, and the disc-shaped rice cakes look like coins, so they symbolize a wish for upcoming prosperity for anyone who eats them.” It’s kind of sweet and fun right?!

It’s a really simple and easy dish to make and you can make it under 30 minutes. The broth is the most important part of the soup. You have to take care that it remains clear and doesn’t cloud up. The secret to it is not to stir the meat when you put it into the boiling water right away and to periodically clean the edges of the pot. The broth is rich and flavorful and the addition of gim (seaweed) brings it that ocean depth of flavor. Another important aspect is the rice cakes. You can try and make them yourselves, the recipe can be found on the same site, maangchi.com, but I prefer to just buy them from Amazon. It’s easier and convenient, though one day perhaps I’ll give it a shot and try and attempt to make it from scratch. These are the rice cakes I bought from Amazon and they worked perfectly.

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Sekero rice cake,Korean rice cake, Rice Ovaletts, 24oz/pk (Pack of 1)

And this is the seaweed I got on Amazon (gim and nori are the same thing except that gim (the korean version) is seasoned with oil, salt and toasted. I used this version and it turned out fine but you can also buy gim in the store. They come in little packets as a seaweed snack which will probably bring more flavor into the dish.

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Sound Sea Vegetables Organic Toasted Sushi Nori, 7 Sheets, 0.55 Ounce

This is a definite must try …Moudi loved it, put it in the holy grail category and then proceeded to buy more rice cakes on Amazon lol. I suspect that I shall be making this again quite soon. 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sliced tteok rice cakes soaked in cold water for 30 min and drained
  • 7 cups water
  • ½ lb beef (flank steak, shank or brisket), chopped into small pieces
  • 3 tsp minced garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs (egg yolks and egg whites separated)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 sheet of kim (black seaweed paper)
  • 1 serrano or thai chili pepper (optional), chopped
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl add 1 lb of rice cakes and cover with water. Soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Put 7 cups of water and 1 tbsp of fish sauce in a heavy pot, cover, and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add 1 lb of shank and 3 tsp garlic  to the water, cover, lower the heat to medium and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Roast both sides of a sheet of gim over a low flame until it’s bright green and very crispy. Put it in a plastic bag and crush it by hand. Set aside.
  5. Separate the egg yolks from the whites of two eggs and place into two separate bowls.
  6. Add pinch of salt to each and mix with a fork.
  7. Add 2 tsp of vegetable 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 layer on the pan.
  8. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan and spread thin into an even layer. Let it cook on the hot pan, remove and let it cool. Slice it into thin strips and set it aside.
  9. Add the rice cakes to the boiling soup along with 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp sesame oil. Stir, cover and let it cook for about 7 minutes or until all the rice cakes are floating.
  10. Pour the egg whites into the pot and let it sit for a minute before stirring and breaking apart.
  11. Ladle the rice cake soup into bowls. Garnish with yellow egg strips, crushed seaweed, and thinly sliced serrano peppers.

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Original recipe adapted from: https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/tteokguk

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