Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Korean Rice Cake & Dumpling Soup (떡만두국)

떡국 or Korean rice cake soup is typically eaten on the morning of the Korean New Year, which is the first day of the Lunar Calendar. It is said that you will be blessed with luck in the New Year if you eat a bowl of this delicious, healthy and versatile soup.

The broth is generally made with a beef stock. However, it can also be made with pork, chicken, seafood, and in this particular recipe, dried sardines were used. Folks, this soup takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

I don't know about you but I always like to add dumplings to my rice cake soup. I made mini dumplings from the leftovers of this filling recipe. Tender, juicy and flavorful, the dumplings adds a bit of heartiness to the soup.

I didn't grow up in a family that performed a host of traditions. But I always remember our New Years traditions. New Year mornings, our entire family, cousins, uncles and aunts would gather with our grandma, the matriarch of our family. All the children would perform saebae or a bow to the elders. Then the children would receive gifts of money. And we were always told to use both hands when taking the money, bow, thank our elders for the generous gift and wish them all a blessed New Year.

It's too bad the cash stops when you're in your late teens or so. I always made a killing. In most Asian families it's very common to receive money when you visit your grandparents, aunts & uncles. And there's this funny gesture that most Korean children and adults do when their elders try to give them money. They back away and say,"oh, no no no I couldn't, please keep it." But of course they then shove the bill in your hands or slips it in your purse saying,"take it, take it." And you knew that would be the outcome because that was pretty much the outcome every year.

I decided to use my round biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the square dumpling skins to create mini dumplings.

make the dumplings...
*take one egg and whisk well in a small bowl to use as a sealant for the dumplings. 

1. Take about a teaspoon of this filling and place in the middle of the dumpling wrapper.

2. Using the back of a spoon spread the egg wash on the edges of half of the dumpling skin. Fold the opposite side over and press firmly to create a semi circle dumpling.

make the sardine broth...

Korean Dried Sardine Broth
8-10 Cups Water
2 Cups (about 20 sardines), these were about 2.5 inches long
1 Clove Garlic, minced


1. Bring the water to a boil. Add the dried sardines and allow to boil for about 5 minutes on high. Lower heat to medium and simmer for about 15 minutes. Using a fine mesh sieve, pour the stock into a clean pot. Add the minced garlic and bring to boil.

make the rice cake soup...


Entire Sardine Stock from above recipe
2 Cups Rice Cakes, the ones that are sliced
4 Egg Yolk (and/or Egg White) Crepe, I had some yolks left so I made egg crepes cut thin
2 Scallions, cut thin on a diagonal (white & green parts)
12-16 Mini Pork & Scallion Dumplings
Sliced Roasted Korean Seaweed
Salt & Pepper to taste

egg crepeon medium/low heat add the whisked eggs to a preheated frying pan and allow to cook through. Flip the egg crepe, turn off heat and allow to finish cooking. Cool and slice into very thin strips and set aside.


1. Place the dumplings in the boiling broth and bring to boil, stir with a wooden spatula once. Add the rice cakes, stir to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Lower heat to medium and allow to cook for a minute or so or until the rice cakes are soft. Add salt & pepper to taste. Top with the egg crepe, scallions & seaweed and add a small drop of sesame seed oil. Serve hot.

I purchased freshly made Korean dduk (떡) or rice cake at my local Korean grocers. You can also find frozen ones as well. But if you can get a hold of freshly made dduk, obviously those would be preferable.

You will usually find 떡만두국or rice cake & dumpling soup at your Korean Restaurant. A clean tasting and filling soup often eaten as a meal. It can be made both vegetarian or with meat or seafood. 새해 복많이받드새요, wishing you a blessed New Year. Enjoy!

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28 Reactions to this post

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  1. Fun and Fearless in Beantown said... January 5, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    I love duk guk! SO good! And we definitely grew up doing sabae every New Year's Day - those were the days! Do you do this with your son now?

  2. Larie said... January 5, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    I love 떡국! I can't cook, but I wonder if I could convince my fiance to make it, now that I have a recipe? (My mom cooks without's very endearing, but frustrating when you want to duplicate it! Haha). Thanks for posting this! I love that your recipes often remind me of my mom. I should call her :P

  3. Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said... January 5, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Your family is so lucky to have you! I hosted a New Year's Eve party and didn't make any Thai food. haha. Boo. Your dumplings are so adorable. I don't think I have rice cake in a soup; only pan fried and stir fried. The sadine broth sounds wonderful, tho. It's very interesting.

    When I have kids, I'd like to speak Thai to them too. Best wishes to you, your sous chef and the hubs!

  4. Roxan said... January 5, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Dduk mandoo gook is one of my faaaavorites! I totally miss saebae-ing to my elders. We would run to the mall and use all our money. I remember I would hate wearing my hambok but looking back at the pictures now I'm so glad my parents forced me to!
    Happy new year Lisa.

  5. Swathi said... January 5, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Looks delicious. It always fun to read about traditions in different parts of world. Awesome hardy soup.

  6. Jos said... January 5, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Chinese also has that tradition of giving the money gift in a red envelope to the kids. some says as long you're single you'll still receive it. The gift stops if you're married.. LOL.

    I guess that's the old ways. Nowdays, it makes more sense if you're working, morally you should give it to the parents/elders instead :P

  7. cooperl788 said... January 5, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Oh yum! I love dumplings... It looks delicious, and I really loved the story that came with it. We have a similar Puerto Rican tradition that when we visit grandparents and elder aunts and uncles, they try to give you money. Like you, you're supposed to say no, but then they shove it in your pockets or in your hands anyway. Happy New Year!

  8. Newyorkerbyheart said... January 5, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    Yet again, it looks soooo delishious! I love the dumplings, I'll have to try at make them.
    Eventhough I'm Danish, I'm adopted from Korea but have never been there. So I love it, when I learn something about "my" country :-)

    My best,
    Birthe from Denmark

  9. Lawyer Loves Lunch said... January 5, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    I don't think I've ever had Korean rice cake but I love me some dumplings and broth so I think I'd be a fan of this soup. And I agree, it's such a shame that the presents stop when you get older :(

  10. jose manuel said... January 5, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Contigo estoy aprendiendo cantidad de comidas nuevas, distintas a lo que por aquí se hace. Se ve fantastica.


  11. Zoe said... January 5, 2011 at 11:26 PM

    I can see lots of details and perfection in your cooking. Your dumplings are so perfectly shaped. Your family is so lucky to have these dumplings and noodles...Oh I'm drooling...I don't think I can find a restaurant that can serve this kind of good Korean home-cooked food in Melbourne, Aus.

  12. Sommer J said... January 6, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    LOVE THIS! Love reading about your traditions. We were pretty much tradition-free growing up, too. The soup sounds absolutely fabulous and I am very intrigued by the sardine broth. Your passion for Korean food is certainly contagious. Even better, I had some yaki mandu over the holidays and I LOVED it looking forward to making some of my own here soon. I know my children would just love it! This and your mini-buns are certainly on my must make list. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Trish said... January 6, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    Love this post. I enjoy the adorable dumpling recipe but I especially love hearing and learning about your family traditions. Keep the Korean recipes coming!

  14. Kim - Liv Life said... January 6, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Lisa, your pics are just stunning! We had a Japanese lady who lived up the street from us when we were little and she always gave us money every year.

    I've never had this soup, but it looks so good. I would love to try my hand at the dumplings!

  15. Globetrotting in Tokyo said... January 6, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    I have to ask.. have you ever made them wrappers by hand? UGH... did it once, once was enough... I buy them from now, although Sebastian does the wrapping.. and I do the eating.

    I love it with dried fish, I use this fish (grind them into powder) and top it off over a bowl of rice.. nom nom nom.

    Looks super.

  16. Judy said... January 6, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    I wondered what my Asian cousins ate on New Year's Day! Thanks so much for sharing. We eat mochi soup (ozoni) on NY's morning. I've had Korean mochi before in a soup but never this particular one. I'd love to try it one year. We also got little bags of cash (otoshidama) and I always thought it sucked once I got to college and stopped getting envelopes. :) Happy New Year!

  17. Monet said... January 7, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Anyone would be LUCKY to sample some of your delicious dumplings. They look so good, and I loved hearing about some of your family's New Years traditions. I never knew about this Korean dish and its associations, so thank you for expanding my horizons! Take care, sweet woman and Happy New Year!

  18. Karen from Globetrotter Diaries said... January 7, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    These are beautiful photos! I have wonderful family memories of wrapping dumplings with my mom, so i loved seeing these.

  19. said... January 7, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Beautiful shots and looks delicious!

  20. Dimah said... January 8, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Wonderful and interesting! thanks for sharing!

  21. lostpastremembered said... January 8, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    The photos just took my breath away and I so love traditions that are delicious... so lovely you have a new generation to pass them along to... it is a great gift to have old family recipes! I can't wait to try them!

  22. Jackie said... January 8, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    Oh wow, this looks awesome! I love those rice cakes - Momma Lee likes to fry them up with beef and I love their chewiness, but I bet in this soup they'd be delicious!

    Happy new year, lovely! ;)

    Jax x

  23. Mariko said... January 9, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    These pictures are mouth watering. I love little rice cakes in soup.

  24. baking.serendipity said... January 9, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    I'm loving all the soups out there this January and yours looks absolutely delicious! I am not super familiar with Korean food, but this is definitely one I'd love to try. I hope your new year has started out fabulously :)

  25. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said... January 11, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Oh I love the way the dumplings got all frilly at the edges. Though I don't see my relatives often, they also have the habit of shoving money at me whenever i visit China. Happy New Year!

  26. Emmelyn said... March 28, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    Thanks for the wonderful recipes and pics! I'm Chinese and my husband's Korean so I'm always looking for good Korean recipes! Thanks!

  27. Anonymous said... January 13, 2014 at 4:42 PM

    Thank you for sharing this:) I have been looking for Korean recipes and luckily stumbled across your blog on Pinterest with this soup! My husband is Japanese and five years ago when we met, he opened my eyes (and pallet) to the most wonderful food I will have ever tasted in all my years! Korean is by far my favorite! I can't wait to try out more of your recipes...
    -L. Koike.

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