Rice cake soup

Tteokguk 떡국

Teeokguk (rice cake soup) is a delicious, filling soup made of disc-shaped rice cakes in a clear broth. Koreans always eat it on Seollal (Korean New Year’s Day), the first day of the Lunar calendar and one of the most important holidays in Korea. Traditionally, according to Korean age reckoning, everyone’s age went up one year on Seollal, and the process wasn’t totally complete until you had a bowl of tteokguk. I make a beef broth in this recipe, but you can use any meat you prefer, or use seafood, or just make an anchovy stock or kelp stock.

You’d ask someone on Seollal: “Did you eat a bowl of rice cake soup today?” Meaning: are you one year older?

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These days Koreans also have tteokguk on Western New Year’s day, January 1st, too. The whiteness of the soup symbolizes a clean, fresh start to the new year, and the disc-shaped rice cakes look like coins, so they symbolize a wish for upcoming prosperity for anyone who eats them.

Despite the symbolism, this soup is not just for special occasions: personally, I eat it all the time, because it’s delicious and easy to make! It’s a one bowl meal.

I think the real key to this soup is i making a clear, delicious broth, which takes some care and attention to do. But overall this is a very easy recipe to make: you can buy the rice cakes in a Korean grocery store, or even make your own with my garaetteok recipe.

Why don’t you make a resolution to try tteokguk on new year’s day, and let me know how it turns out!

Ingredients (2-3 servings)

  • 1 pound sliced tteok rice cakes (or homemade) soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained
  • 7 cups water
  • ½ pound beef (flank steak or brisket), chopped into small pieces
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dae-pa large green onions (or 3 green onions), washed and sliced  thinly and diagonally.
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (or soup soy sauce to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 sheet of kim (black seaweed paper)
  • 1 red pepper (optional), chopped
  • salttteokguk_rice cake

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Directions

  1. Put the water in a heavy pot, cover, and bring it to a vigorous boil over high heat for 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the beef and garlic and lower the heat to medium. Cover and let it boil for 20 to 25 minutes more, until you get a delicious broth.tteokguk (rice cake soup) making
  3. Roast both sides of a sheet of gim until it’s bright green and very crispy. Put it in a plastic bag and crush it by hand. Set aside.kim (seaweed-paper)
  4. Separate the egg yolks from the whites of two eggs, putting yolks and whites into separate bowls. Add pinch of salt to each and mix with a fork. Remove the stringy chalaza from the yolks.
  5. Add the cooking oil to a heated non-stick pan. Swirl the oil around so it covers the pan, and then wipe off the excess with a kitchen towel, leaving a thin oily layer on the pan.
  6. Turn off the heat. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan and tilt it so it spreads evenly and thinly. Let it cook on the hot pan for about 1 minute. Flip it over and let it sit on the pan for another minute, then take it off, slice it into thin strips and set it aside.egg garnish (jidan)gyeran-jidan (egg garnish)

    yellow egg strips (gyeran jidan)

  7. Add the rice cake to the boiling soup along with fish sauce, salt, and sliced green onion. Stir it with a ladle. Cover and let it cook for 7 to 8 minutes until all the rice cakes are floating. Pour the salted egg whites into the boiling soup and let it cook for a minute.tteokguk (rice cake soup)
  8. Add sesame oil, ground black pepper, and chopped green onion. Stir it well. Remove it from the heat and ladle the rice cake soup into indivudual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped green onion, yellow egg strips, crushed seaweed, and red pepper if you want.
  9. Serve it right away, with kimchi and more side dishes if you want. If you wait too long the rice cakes will get soggy, so everybody dig in and enjoy!tteokguk (rice cake soup: 떡국)

tteokguk (떡국)

kimchi

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129 Comments:

  1. Rainfever29 United States joined 10/12
    Posted October 7th, 2012 at 4:54 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi! I made this soup a little while back…it came out wonderful! I added a bit salt and pepper and my mom and dad both loved it. The only trouble was that the rice cake got very very mushy after the cooking time was up and by the next day they were even more mushy! Would it be ok to just through in the rice piece right before eating the soup?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted October 8th, 2012 at 9:20 am | # |

      “Would it be ok to just throw the rice piece right before eating the soup?” yes, what you said is exactly right! Make delicious beef stock and you can keep it in the fridge. When you make rice cake soup, reheat the broth. When the broth boils, add rice cake, then you will enjoy chewy rice cake along with delicious soup. I never like rice cake soup that is 1 day old. The rice cake will be mushy and the soup will look like porridge.

  2. Kira.b OK joined 9/12
    Posted September 24th, 2012 at 5:55 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    I love your cooking channel. I love fish sauce too.
    I dont work for this company, but if your local asian food store carries this fish sauce:
    http://www.amazon.com/Boat-Fish-Sauce-40%C2%B0N-2-250/dp/B0037J1YO2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348523433&sr=8-1&keywords=red+boat+fish+sauce
    is really worth a try. The flavor is really good.
    Thank you for inspiring many of us to cook.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted October 8th, 2012 at 9:14 am | # |

      wow, it’s very expensive but I will try it someday!

  3. DancesInGarden Canada joined 8/12
    Posted August 24th, 2012 at 6:17 pm | # |

    I made this for dinner today (with kim Bap, I know not traditional to serve together) after finding frozen sliced rice cakes at a Korean market. I used leftover cooked pork roast and chicken broth, but the rest was the same. Tasty, comforting, filling, the texture of the chewy rice cakes is perfect. Thank you for a wonderful recipe, and something very new for my family that they all loved!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted August 24th, 2012 at 8:01 pm | # |

      All your family loved your rice cake soup? That’s fantastic! : )

  4. BkzBiGKid New York, NY joined 7/11
    Posted August 4th, 2012 at 12:37 pm | # |

    Congratz on having this recipe featured on tasted! xD

  5. chrispychris NYC joined 4/12
    Posted April 22nd, 2012 at 10:37 pm | # |

    love your site! all the 1.5 generation koreans thank you. i had another question: i noticed you used a lot of fish sauce. i have never seen this growing up in my korean household. isn’t that more of a vietnamese item? i always saw my mom using soysauce.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted April 23rd, 2012 at 9:45 am | # |

      yeah I wish I could find good soup soy sauce with deep flavor. But I never found soup soy sauce that was any good. I have tried many brands of soup soy sauce but none of them were tasty.

      The 3 crab fish sauce is the only one that has the flavor I’m looking for. However, If you are not a big fan of fish sauce, use soup soy sauce.

  6. chrispychris NYC joined 4/12
    Posted April 22nd, 2012 at 10:35 pm | # |

    hi, you don’t need to soak the beef brisket in water or toss the first batch of boiling water? thanks!!

    • mrskimchi san francisco joined 6/13
      Posted September 5th, 2014 at 6:21 pm | # |

      Maangchi! Can you answer this? Every time I make this soup (or myeok guk) the broth turns brownish due to the blood in the meat. Should I soak it first or something?

  7. ZenMistress California joined 4/12
    Posted April 6th, 2012 at 1:14 am | # |

    delicious, authentic, the real thing. Thank you for this recipe, I made it and this soup really hits the spot. My mom never taught me how to cook, but with your website, I’m learning and figuring things out. Thank you for all your hard work and sharing your recipes. Many old school korean moms don’t teach their daughters how to cook, since they would rather their daughters learned how to study hard and get good jobs. My mom also thought I would somehow magically learn by osmosis but I didn’t have a clue. You have taught me so much. With your soup I can now celebrate lunar new year properly!

  8. nanasse Amsterdam - Paris joined 10/11
    Posted January 22nd, 2012 at 2:09 pm | # |

    ♥ thank you soooo much for this recipe! ♥
    Just made it and it is delicious!!!

    I just added few mandu in it~ wonderful ♥♥♥
    Even better than in some restaurant in Seoul !

    Thank you !!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted January 23rd, 2012 at 5:57 am | # |

      oh you made ddeokmanduguk! : )

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted March 24th, 2012 at 9:58 am | # |

      I saw the photo that you uploaded! Presentation is great. It’s not easy to take a good photo of rice cake soup. Adding some mandu (dumplings) is a great idea. https://www.maangchi.com/photo/ddeokmanduguk

      • nanasse Amsterdam - Paris joined 10/11
        Posted March 24th, 2012 at 3:00 pm | # |

        Thank you ^^
        I took 10 pictures to be sure that one will be good.
        But the hardest part was to resist eating it to make the pictures ;)
        The idea of adding mandu is from a restaurant in Seoul which made me discover this wonderful recipe ! ♥

        Next picture: hoddeok
        As soon as I have more free-time, I must try it.
        Your video with Reinier always makes me hungry !

  9. TDenham77 McLeansboro, IL joined 12/11
    Posted December 29th, 2011 at 4:11 pm | # |

    As a little time saver, you can use the powder beef broth that they sell in Asian grocery stores. I leave out the egg and add a few dried anchovies, frozen dumplings, and the beef broth powder. You also don’t necessarily have to soak the rice cake. I add mine straight from the freezer though you do have to add a couple more minutes of cooking time.

  10. Meegs Daejeon, South Korea joined 4/10
    Posted November 19th, 2011 at 6:15 pm | # |

    Why does mine never turn out with that lovely milky color??

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted November 19th, 2011 at 6:32 pm | # |

      Rice cake soup should be clear.

  11. LuccaQ Buffalo,NY joined 6/10
    Posted December 31st, 2010 at 8:15 pm | # |

    I just made a nice big pot of tteokguk for my New Year’s meal. It is so easy and delicious! Happy New Year to all!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted January 2nd, 2011 at 2:16 am | # |

      Happy New Year! I made rice cake soup today, too! yummy!

  12. tastesofhome joined 11/10
    Posted December 6th, 2010 at 3:12 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi! I just tried your ddukguk recipe and I loved it :D although I used anchovies instead of beef plus I just sliced up my dduk from making ddukbokki earlier.

    http://tastesofhome.blogspot.com/2010/12/ddukguk-korean-rice-cake-soup-recipe.html

    here are the photos! thanks again for the lovely recipe :D

    Jen

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted December 6th, 2010 at 11:59 am | # |

      Jen,
      You made delicious ddukguk! I twitted about yours! : )

  13. ShiWu Vietnam joined 8/10
    Posted October 6th, 2010 at 11:32 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi, I was wondering is it okay if i put dumplings in :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted December 6th, 2010 at 12:00 pm | # |

      yes, it’s very ok! : ) It’s called dduk manduguk : 떡만두국 in Korean.

  14. chocostarrr joined 7/10
    Posted July 25th, 2010 at 11:24 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    one of my siblings is allergic to fish, is there something I can substitute the fish sauce for? Would soy sauce work well? Thanks :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 27th, 2010 at 12:28 am | # |

      Use salt or soy sauce. There is lighter colored soy sauce for soup. And add a can of beef broth to make more delicious broth.

  15. Cici99788 joined 7/10
    Posted July 19th, 2010 at 10:55 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi
    They don’t have beef brisket where I live is there another meat I can use like flank steak?

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