Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

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Tteokguk (pronounced sort of like DUK-gook) is a soup of chewy-soft rice cakes cooked in steaming translucent broth. And, just like American New Year's foods, it's a good-luck dish that carries symbolic significance. The white color of the rice cakes signifies purity, so the soup represents a way to start the year off fresh. And traditionally, when you enjoy your New Year's bowl of rice cake soup, your age increases by one year. Though the soup can be made with chicken, pork, pheasant, or seafood, these days it's typically made with beef.

Korean Rice Cake Soup Recipe
Photo: Jennifer Causey
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Yield:
6

Ingredients

  • 6 cups water

  • 4 cups unsalted beef stock

  • 1 pound beef brisket, trimmed and cut into 4 chunks

  • 1 large white onion, halved

  • 4 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed

  • 1 1/2 pounds rice cake ovalettes

  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • 1 teaspoon water

  • 1/2 teaspoon plus dash of kosher salt, divided

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided

  • 1 small garlic clove, grated

  • 3 tablespoons Korean soup soy sauce

  • 6 toasted nori sheets

  • 6 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

Directions

  1. Combine 6 cups water, beef stock, brisket, onion, and crushed garlic cloves in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; partially cover, and cook until brisket can be shredded (it will not be fall-apart tender, we want it with some chew), about 2 hours.

  2. Place rice cake ovalettes in a large bowl, and add cold water to cover. Separate any that are stuck together. Let rice cakes soak 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.

  3. Meanwhile, heat a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium. Combine egg yolks, 1 teaspoon water, and dash of kosher salt. Add 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add egg yolk mixture to pan, and swirl to form a thin layer; cook until just done on bottom without browning, about 1 minute. Flip egg, and cook just until done, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn egg out onto a cutting board. Roll up egg, and cut into thin slices.

  4. Remove brisket from stock mixture; shred brisket with 2 forks, and place in a medium bowl. Add grated garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil; toss well to combine (I find this easiest to do with my hands).

  5. Strain stock mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl or 8-cup measuring cup; discard solids. Add enough water to stock mixture to equal 8 cups, and return to Dutch oven. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir in soy sauce. Add rice cakes, and cook until chewy-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Return shredded brisket to soup, and remove from heat.

  6. Ladle soup evenly into 6 bowls; top each with about 2 tablespoons sliced egg, 1 crumbled nori sheet, and 1 tablespoon scallion.

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