Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ddukgook (떡국)

Happy New Year! How is everyone celebrating? I'm celebrating with Ddukgook. As it is tradition for some to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's for luck, it is a Korean tradition to eat Ddukgook (떡국). Ddukgook consists of dashi and beef broth and thinly sliced rice cakes. Eating this soup on New Year's brings good luck in the upcoming year and adds a year to one's life.

I'm happy to say that I've finally learned how to make traditional Korean food. I have only watched my mom make everything, but with so many ingredients, I can't remember everything when I'm trying to make it on my own. I thought it was about time to write things down, so this morning, I followed my mom around in the kitchen with pencil and paper. It is very simple to make once you've got your ingredients. Unfortunately, there is no Asian market near my university so I can't get a hold of rice cakes. My first thought upon realizing this was that I should make my own rice cakes, so I googled for some recipes and I actually found one that seems somewhat promising! I bookmarked it because I know I will be making it some time in the future. For now, I am just going to take some frozen rice cakes back to Virginia with me. Hopefully, you will have more luck finding rice cakes. There are frozen rice cakes that are already sliced for you sold in the markets, like so:

Sliced Rice Cakes

But fresh is always better. Find ones that are shaped like rods about 3/4-inch in diameter. You can always buy a whole bunch and freeze them for later use. Actually, freezing them before slicing is probably the best idea as it'll be hard to slice through ones that are soft.

Garae Dduk

Just a few notes about the soup. The amount of rice cakes is really your preference. I don't like too many so my serving size would be probably 1/2 cup, so no need to follow the 4 cups. Want more? Just keep adding! Dumplings are also a tasty addition to the soup. My mom made some homemade kimchi dumplings, so we had those with the Ddukgook. Just add to the soup before serving. You can also garnish the soup with thinly cut pieces of dried seaweed. For the egg, you can opt to leave it out of the soup and instead make a plain omelet, thinly slice it, and place it on top of the soup with the dried seaweed before serving. Hope you enjoy and if you have any questions, I'll gladly answer them as I'm not sure I wrote the instructions very well.

Ddukgook (떡국) [Makes 4 servings]
From my mom

- 1/2 lb beef heel meat (don't know how available this is in regular markets, so try brisket or flank steak)
- Dashi, size of your hand
- 4 cups rice cakes
- 2 scallions, chopped
- Garlic powder
- Salt
- 1 egg

1. Place beef and 8 cups water in a large pot. Boil for 10 minutes, reduce heat to a vigorous simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
2. Add dashi and simmer for 20 more minutes. Discard of dashi. Remove the beef, chop into bite size pieces, and place them back into the pot.
3. Bring to a boil. Add some water if the broth has reduced too much. Add rice cakes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add scallions. Season the soup with garlic powder and salt to taste.
4. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Add to soup by spoonfuls and swirl to make ribbons. Turn off heat and remove pot from heat. Enjoy!


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