This year, the Lunar New Year falls on Feb 16. The date of the Lunar New Year falls on a different date every year, because it’s based on the lunar calendar according to old traditions in Asia. Lunar New Year is celebrated in numerous Asian countries and territories, and Korea is one of them. Wanna know which countries celebrate it? Check out on Office Holidays

The rice cake discs

There is a soup that every Korean eats on this day, which is called Tteok-Guk. Tteok means rice cake and Guk means soup. The main ingredient of this soup is rice dough cut into little discs. The white color symbolizes purity (starting the New Year in a blank sheet) and the coin-like shape represents money and prosperity. Parents usually scare kids saying that if they don’t eat a whole bowl of the soup, they won’t become another year older in the New Year. Usually the sentence Koreans use to greet each other during the Lunar New Year holidays is “Did you eat Tteok-Guk?”

 

The soup has delicious colorful toppings which are ingredients of white (cooked egg white), yellow (cooked egg yolk), green (chopped green onions), black (shiitake mushroom and beef) and red (chili). These five colors symbolise the universe in Korean tradition and you will see these colors in Korean food decorations, temples and traditional costumes.

When I was a child, we didn’t eat this soup on the New Year’s Day only but also many times throughout the year. My mom had three hungry kids to feed while working on her art projects, so she frequently cooked menus that could be made fast in a huge pot and feed the family for the whole week 🙂 So yes, this soup is very easy to make. Effortless and delicious! So I hope you try it this Lunar New Year’s Day to celebrate it in style.

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Tteok-Guk (Korean New Year’s Rice Cake Soup)

Ingredients for two people

Rice cake discs 400g (usually sold frozen): Where to buy?

Making the broth

For the broth:

  • 5x5cm Kombu (if you have smaller ones, use multiples)
  • Two dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1-2 roots of green onion, washed
  • 2L water
  • 100-150g oxtail for a rich broth (optional)
  • Broth seasoning: 1.5 Tbsp salt, 1.5 Tbsp garlic, 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce

Toppings:

  • 150g minced beef marinated in 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce+ 1.5 Tbsp sugar + 1.5 tsp garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • chopped green onions
  • chopped red chili
  • black pepper
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • sesame oil

Steps

  1. Soak the frozen rice cake discs in cold water for 20-30min to revive them for cooking.
  2. Put 2L of water in a pot and put in the Kombu, shiitake mushrooms, halved onion, green onion root, and oxtail. Simmer for 30min.
  3. In the meantime prepare the toppings:
    • Quickly stir fry the marinated beed in a hot oiled pan. Set aside.
    • Eggs: Split the egg whites and yolks. Pan-fry each of them over low heat. Flip over and cook both sides. Cool them and cut them into strips. Set aside.
  4. Go back to the broth in the pot and fish out the stock ingredients. Cut the kombuinto a diamond shape, set aside. Squeeze the water out of the shiitake and cut into thin strips like the eggs and set aside. Throw away the onion and green onion root.
  5. Add in the broth seasoning and all the rice cakes into the pot. Boil for 5-7 min and turn off heat. (Boiling shorter will yield chewier rice cake.) The soup is ready to serve.
  6. Scoop the soup and rice cakes into two big bowls. Place the toppings on top like the image below. Add a drop of sesame oil, a dash of black pepper, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Delicious Tteok-Guk is ready to eat! Serve with Kimchi.