2013

Ddeok Guk Makes You One Year Older

Every year on Seollal/설날 (Korean Lunar New Year), Koreans eat ddeok guk/떡국, which is a rice cake soup.  While living in Korea, we would travel to Osan to my husband’s grandmother’s house where we would prepare special New Year’s foods for two days.  The main dish, and arguably the most important is the rice cake soup.  I always tease my husband that he’s going to age too quickly when he eats multiple bowls of soup on Lunar New Year, since the Korean myth states that you will age by one year when you eat Ddeok Guk on New Year Day.

This year, I decided to surprise my husband on our New Year Day here in Canada, with a nice steaming bowl of Ddeok Guk when he woke up on January first.  Needless to say I made it into his good books that day.
Since it was a spur of the moment decision to make Ddeok Guk, I didn’t have any beef on hand, so I used dashida (instant beef stock), in boiling water and skipped the usual beef step.  I also added mandu (dumplings) because my husband loves them, but that’s completely up to you.  My 18 month old sweetie and my husband gave this recipe two thumbs up.
What you need for two and a half people:
  • Water
  • Dashida (Instant beef stock) 1T
  • Rice cakes (the type which are sliced thinly at an angle). about 2 cups.
  • Green Onion Chopped
  • Fish sauce 1t
  • Sesame Oil 1T
  • Two eggs, separated
  • Dried, Salted Kim
  • Mandu/Dumplings (optional)
  • Soy Sauce (optional)
What to do:
  • Soak rice cakes in cold water (about 20 minutes or so).
  • Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil, add dashida.
  • Drain rice cakes and add them, and the mandu, to the water.  Turn down the heat a bit, and cover.
  • Add about a teaspoon of fish sauce to the soup, for flavour.
  • After about 5 or 6 minutes, check the soup and see if the rice cakes are still floating.  You can taste it!
  • Slowly add the two egg whites to the soup, but don’t stir it until the egg whites are cooked.
  • Add a splash of sesame oil and a bit of soy sauce if you like.

Meanwhile, the Garnish

  • On a frying pan, fry the egg yolks as you would a very thin omelette.  You want to make a thin egg paper.  When it is nearly cooked, flip it over and finish up the other side.
  • Remove from pan and cut into thin strips
  • For the kim/seaweed, you can toast a full sheet of kim, and then crumble it, or, like me, just use the already salted/seasoned/crumbled type.

The finale

  • Dish out the bowls of soup, add soy sauce if it is too bland for you.  Garnish with the egg strips and kim.  Enjoy and have fun growing a year older!

ddeok guk

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