Ahhh, tteokguk. Pronounced by me as “duck-gook” (because the romanization of Korean is absolutely atrocious) it is one of my favorite Korean foods. I associate it with New Year’s due to my mom usually making it for the first day of the new year. There’s a Korean tradition that you should eat tteokguk the first day of the new year for good luck and prosperity.
My personal tradition states you should eat tteokguk because it is delicious. A meaty broth that pairs well with the sweetness of the rice cakes, with the sesame seed oil and toasted nori adding a nutty profile to the soup. The rice cakes are my favorite part though, due to their unique chewy, soft texture.
This soup comes together very quickly. Don’t be put-off by the number of ingredients – even the garnishes come together very quickly.
1 lb ground beef
6 cups water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tsp sesame seed oil
1 bag narrow sliced rice cakes
1 tsp butter or cooking oil
1 sheet nori
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
1 scallion, minced
- In a large pot, brown ground beef, ensuring that you break the beef up into small pieces.
- After beef is browned, add the 6 cups water, soy sauce, sea salt, and sesame seed oil.
- Bring beef solution to a boil. Add the entire bag of rice cakes and cook for around 10 mintes until softened.
- Test a rice cake – it should still be somewhat firm and gummy, but soft enough to bite through easily. Once done, remove from heat.
- For the egg, we’re going to make a very thin omelet. Beat egg until yolk and white are combined. In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the butter or cooking oil to coat the pan. Pour the egg onto the pan in a thin layer until cooked and crispy. Remove from pan and cut into ¼ inch strips.
- To make the nori strips, brush a full sheet of nori with remaining sesame seed oil and roast in toaster oven or in a frying pan, being careful not to burn. Remove and cut into ¼ inch strips with scissors.
- To serve, ladle broth and rice cakes into a bowl. Place egg and nori strips on top, scattering minced scallion and roasted sesame seeds. Serve hot!
- There is also sometimes the addition of Korean dumplings (which makes it into tteok mandu guk)– but being gluten free as well as a tiny bit lazy, I haven’t put dumplings in tteokguk in years and it tastes just as delicious without.
- I believe that brisket is usually the traditional cut of beef used for the broth – I chose to use ground beef because it cooks so quickly, but you can also make stock from any other cut of beef (oxtail tteokguk anyone?) as well as pork, chicken, or even a vegetarian friendly broth (I’d probably opt for a seafood based broth)
- There’s a Korean tradition that you only gain one year in age when you eat your yearly tteokguk on the first day of the new year. Even if it is a magical Korean rice cake soup that makes you age, it’s totally worth it. I’ll take a big bowl of hot tteokguk over wrinkles any time.
- This soup doesn’t keep all that well, since the rice cakes tend to stick together into a massive sticky rice cake. If you absolutely cannot finish it and must reheat it, allow the soup to come to a boil on the stovetop to allow the rice cakes to separate again.
Did you eat anything to celebrate the new year? Or had anything delicious to eat so far in 2016? Tell me what is new and delicious in the new year!