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...
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 crepe: on 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!