Yesterday, my mother made us Korean Rice Cake Soup and it was warmth in our bellies and in our souls. In Korean it’s called Dduk Guk (떡국). Dduk / 떡 means “rice cake” and Guk / 국 means “soup”. Rice Cake Soup.
So it’s a very literal naming of a very traditional dish that used to be prepared primarily on the Korean Lunar New Year. I say “used to be”, because Dduk Guk used be a once a year thing “back then” according to my mother. “Back then” when food was never found in excess and Dduk Guk was considered more of a specialty, as opposed to now where it’s on every Korean restaurant menu.
~ If you’re ever in New York City hung over the morning after NYE partying, get yourself to Koreatown on West 32nd Street. There are a few restaurants every year offering free (yes FREE) Dduk Guk for Koreans and non-Koreans alike!
You’ll find variations of this recipe across the Korean community, but this one I’m sharing here (my momz recipe) is one of the simplest! If you have a Korean / Asian supermarket near you, you should be able to procure your sliced rice cake in the frozen section (they usually come in 2 lb. bags!)
My mother, bless her soul forever and ever, brought me a whole freezer drawerful of sliced rice cake on this trip to Belgium. I am a happy little Korean, for sure.
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8 – 10 cups of cold water
1 pound sliced rice cake
½ pound ribeye or flank steak
2 egg whites (beaten, add a little salt)
2 egg yolks (beaten, add a little salt)
2 stalks of scallion
2 sheets of roasted seaweed Roasted Seaweed
Sesame oil (or olive oil)
1. Thaw your sliced rice cake. Always thaw your rice cake completely, otherwise you will have very mushy blobs of rice goo by the end of cooking. Once thawed, soak your sliced rice cake in a bowl of water (5-10 minutes) so that they cook more evenly later.
2. Prepare our scallion by washing, cutting off a bit from each end, and chopping into one-inch pieces.
3. Slice your beef into bite-sized strips and set aside.
4. Heat a small frying pan and add oil. Lowering your flame to low, add your beaten egg whites. After one minute, flip and let cook on the other side for one minute. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Repeat the above step for the beaten egg yolks. Let them cool.
5. Grab a big ass pot and pre-heat over a medium flame. Add 2 tablespoons of your oil and then add your sliced beef. Salt/pepper your beef. Sautée for 3-5 minutes until cooked through then add your cold water. Add salt/pepper to taste.
6. While you’re waiting for your soup to come to boil, your eggs should have cooled down by now so you can slice them into strips. I recommend “rolling” them before slicing, so you can keep everything tidy!
7. Grab your sheets of seaweed and ball them up in your hands, crushing and crumbling them into small bits and pieces.
8. When your soup has come to a boil, add your sliced rice cake and bring to a boil (and wait until your rice cakes begin to float to the top). Your soup will turn a beautiful milky white.
9. Add your scallion when your rice cakes begin floating to the top (should take approximately 5 minutes). You can taste-test one of your rice cakes…should be more than al dente, chewy and not too mushy!Korean
9. Leave on the stove for one more minute before serving in a deep bowl. Throw the seaweed, white and yellow strips of egg on top (so pretty) and serve!
~ Good news, if you don’t have the time to deal with separating egg whites and yolks, etc. you can always just beat them together in the same bowl and then add the mixture to your pot at the same time as your scallion.
I hope you’ll try this recipe, and see what all the Korean loving is all about!