Thursday, January 23, 2020

[Food] Tteokguk and its recipe (떡국, Rice-cake soup and its recipe)


[Food] Tteokguk and its recipe (떡국, Rice-cake soup and its recipe)

Every culture in every country has its own tradition to greet the New Year. In particular, East-Asian countries who follow the Lunar Calendar traditionally celebrate New Years at the end of January. Therefore, like China and Japan, Koreans also eat something special on New Years which they call 'Tteokguk (Rice-cake soup)'. 'Tteok' means rice-cake and 'guk' means soup in Korean.

Koran traditional table for ancestral rites
Strong village men gather around a mill to pound steamed rice into cake, and cooked rice cake and rice cake soup for the New Year.

Rice dough pounded in a wooden mortar by a wooden pestle to make rice cake
Sliced rice cake to be put into a soup for rice-cake soup

No one knows how long Koreans have been cooking rice cake soup for the New Year. Scholars can only predict it's been more than 2000 years, which is in ancient Korea. Koreans must eat rice cake soup in the morning of the New Year and serve guests who visit their home.

A long time ago, pheasant stock and its meat was used for rice-cake soup, but as time has gone by, pheasant has become so hard to hunt, so pheasant was only used by nobles and the royal family. Everyday citizens usually used chicken and its stock; today beef is easy to buy and gives a better taste so most Korean families use beef stock for rice-cake soup.

Rice-cake recipe is very simple

1. Separate tough and soft beef. Marinate soft beef with soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Make beef stock with tough meat.

2. Separate the egg yolk from the white, griddle each of them into flat shapes then chop them into thin strips.

3. Heat the stock, and put sliced rice cakes when it boils.

4. Top the dish with chopped marinated beef and eggs.

Koreans say "You become 1 year older per dish of rice cake soup", because they traditionally eat rice cake soup at New Year. So if you visit Korea during the New Year season, don't eat rice cake soup too much if you don't want to become grandma or grandpa earlier than others (LOL)

Bon Appétit!

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