Ddeokguk – Korean Rice Cake Soup

So, I’m a little behind on my posts.  I just posted the family Christmas photos on a post I had written on 12/27.  If you care to check it out, click on 2010 Family Christmas Photos.

Anyway, moving on to New Year’s, although if I’m trying to catch up sequentially, I should  write about the Curse of Mount Snow.  Dum dum dum.

But those photos haven’t been edited yet.  New Year’s it is.

Traditionally, Koreans celebrate the Lunar New Year.  I could say I’m ahead of the game since Lunar (or Chinese) New Year is later on.

But our family started celebrating the Western New Year when we moved to the US.  Since I’m all about honesty, I’m back to square one.  I’m a little late on my posts…

Over the years, we gave up much of the tradition that goes along with  New Year’s celebration.  Dressing up in traditional hanbok and visiting elder family (parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles) to pay respect.  Flying a kite.  Actually, I don’t ever recollect flying a kite for New Year’s.  Who really flies kites in the winter anyway?

The one tradition we kept was eating Ddeokguk on New Year’s morning and I’ve been keeping it with my own family.  It is supposed to give good luck and blessings.  Or represent new luck and blessings?  Or something. Yeah, I have no idea why we eat it.

IMG_4346

So, what is Ddeokguk?  It is a soup(guk) usually made with beef broth.  It contains sliced Korean rice “cakes” (ddeok) and garnished with thinly sliced fried egg, roasted kim (nori) and chopped scallion.

If you don’t know Korean food, this may all sound strange.  If you like Korean food, you know that Ddeokguk is the ultimate comfort food.  Especially comforting after flying a kite in freezing temperatures!  (Again, who does that?)

Sometimes I add other ingredients like mandoos (dumplings) or odaeng (see photo below) or even  some broccoli florets for veggies.

odaeng

I’ve tried to make the process as easy as possible by using chicken broth. This year, I actually made beef stock. There’s a more authentic taste with beef broth, but chicken broth will do in a pinch.  I add some garlic and ginger for flavoring.

If you’re lucky, fresh ddeok can be found in a large Korean supermarket like H-Mart.  They are more likely found packaged like below in the refrigerated or frozen sections of most Korean supermarkets.  Either one works fine.  Obviously, the frozen ones take longer to cook.

duk

If you don’t live near any Korean store, you can order ddeok and other items online from H-Mart.

kim

This photo is a sample of Korean roasted kim.  Or roasted laver.  It is like the Japanese sushi nori except that it is usually a little thinner and has been roasted and seasoned lightly with salt.  As shown in the packaging, we generally eat it wrapped around some rice.

I like to buy these little packages.  A bigger package would go to waste since once opened, roasted kim doesn’t keep for long.  I guess I could be old school and roast them fresh myself, but that’s just too much work.  Packaged roasted kims are good enough for me.

I had really wanted to do a step-by-step, but New Year’s Day was a little hectic.  We winded up eating Ddeokguk for dinner instead of breakfast.  Don’t worry, I checked with my Mom to make sure I wasn’t jinxing my luck for the next year.

I forgot to take a photo of the final soup, which was a shame because it was by far my best effort.  By the time dinner rolled around, I was hungry and taking some photos was the last thing on my mind.

The picture of ddeokguk above is from last year.  I had meant to post the recipe then.  Well, it’s all good in the hood, right?  As long as it gets posted at some point so that Soso and Peanut can reference back as adults.  It isn’t as if any of y’all have been hammering for this recipe!

Anyway, if you’re adventuresome, if you like Korean food, if you like ddeokguk and some how missed the hundreds of recipes out there but happened onto my blog, here it is.

TY #1 Mom

Ddeokguk

Print

Prep Time: 10 mins      Cook Time: 20 mins

Serving: 4

Ingredients

2 garlic, minced or grated (I prefer grated. I don’t like to bite into garlic pieces.)
1/2 inch ginger, grated
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
6 cups beef or chicken broth
2 eggs, mixed lightly with 2 tablespoon water
1 small package roasted kim, sliced thinly
2 stalks scallion, chopped
4 cups sliced ddeok
sesame oil
roasted sesame seeds
black pepper

*optional ingredients (4 dumplings, 8 odaeng, 8 small broccoli florets)  If using, add another cup or two of broth.

Directions

In a medium pot, heat vegetable oil for a few seconds. Add garlic and ginger and stir for 1 minutes in order to release the flavors.  Pour broth, cover and bring the broth to a boil.

Meanwhile, fry the eggs into two thin, flat omelets.  Slice thinly when cool and set aside.

When the broth is boiling, add the ddeok and boil for a few minutes without the cover.  The optional ingredients can be added at this time as well.  Check a piece of ddeok for tenderness.  They should all be floating up and be tender but not overly soft.  Add the scallions and turn off the heat.

Ladle into individual serving bowls.  To each bowl, add some fresh black pepper, a couple of drops of sesame oil, some sliced egg strips, roasted kim, and a sprinkle of roasted sesame seeds.  Serve immediately.  Ddeokguk does not keep as the ddeok will get mushy and bloated over time.

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