Eating tteokguk on Seollal, the first day of the year, is a Korean tradition that dates back to the late 18th century. The white color of the tteok signifies purity and cleanliness and the shape is symbolic of round Korean brass coins, which is a wish for prosperity and wealth.
On cold, wintery nights, nothing beats a satisfying bowl of tteokguk (rice cake soup) and if you’re thinking the traditional Korean dish is only served on New Year’s Day, you would be wrong. It’s the perfect comfort food for those long winter months when you’re craving carbs and warm soup at the same time.
Until recently, I used to make the soup broth from scratch which took way too long. Now, I’ve discovered a delightful shortcut version that, dare I say, tastes better than my own. What’s the secret? Packaged beef bone broth. It’s that good. I like to use Bibigo Beef Bone Broth Soup which has a nice, rich flavor that pairs well with rice cake. You can use a similar beef broth if the Bibigo is not available.
Because it’s a bit saltier than I’d like, I typically add water or some leftover homemade broth from my freezer to dilute the soup to suit my low sodium tastebuds. You can add some minced garlic for even more flavor.
To save myself even more time, I also use the pre-seasoned roasted seaweed flakes (found at none other than my local Costco store) as garnish. You can also cut up the seaweed snacks you might already have in your pantry.
With these two shortcuts, it’s so easy to make and takes no time at all. Make some mandu and you’ll have an even heartier meal. Best of all, tteokguk makes for a gratifying meal for adults and kids alike.
Linda’s Super Easy Tteokguk
- 4 cups tteok: sliced rice cakes, rinsed and drained (soak for 10 minutes if frozen)
- 4 oz beef, cooked and thinly sliced or torn into bite-sized pieces. (I like to boil chuck flank steak for 30 minutes on medium heat. You can use the residual beef broth to dilute the packaged soup base. Once cooled, season with 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 minced garlic, 1 tbsp of sesame oil, salt/pepper to taste.)
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 egg, beaten and fried in one thin layer, then cut into thin strips for garnish
- 2 packages Bibigo Beef Bone Broth
- 1/2 cup roasted seaweed flakes
In a medium to large sized pot, bring the soup broth to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the rice cakes. Let the rice cakes cook in medium high heat until it becomes chewy and soft, usually about 5 minutes. [Optional: You can add frozen dumplings (three or four per person) to make this meal even heartier. Doing so will also add more flavor to your soup base].
Add scallions and black pepper to taste.
Divide the soup into individual bowls. Finish off by adding the seasoned beef, egg and seaweed on top.