Sae-hae bok mani badeuesayo (새해 복 많이 받으세요)! Or Happy New Year! Or if you want to be literal, I hope you have much good fortune in the New Year.
Chinese New Year is a major holiday that has been celebrated all over the world for centuries. While the holiday bears the name of the most populous Asian country, it is really the celebration of the lunar new year. Because it is based on the lunar calendar rather than the solar, or Gregorian, calendar, it falls on a different day every year. Loosely, it falls on the second full moon after the winter solstice (unless there is a leap month) and is a three-day holiday (the day before, the day of, and the day after) that celebrates ancestors and is a time of reunion where families come from far and wide to celebrate together.
Duane and I first truly experienced the holiday while we lived in Seoul, South Korea in the mid-1990s, so we tend to call it Lunar New Year and celebrate by eating a traditional Korean soup, dduk-guk. Typically eaten for breakfast, this rice cake soup, is eaten to bring one good fortune throughout the year. This soup is also known as the birthday soup as the eating of the rice cake is to signify turning a year older. But I’ll leave that discussion for another post.
Getting the soup requires a bit of effort on our part as we have to drive a good ways to the nearest Korean restaurant or grocery. When we make it at home, we’re not always able to make it the traditional way as we are drawing from Korean ingredients we happen to have in the pantry and freezer supplemented by what is available at the local grocery.
When cooking at home, I do a spin off of Chef Julie Yoon’s dduk-guk recipe. I’ve not made that recipe to the letter as I don’t plan ahead and give myself time to make a proper broth and don’t always have all her recommended ingredients on hand. If you’re looking for a truly authentic recipe, pop over to her website and try that one.
On the days that I’m lucky enough to have some basic Korean ingredients such as seaweed laver, soy sauce, rice cakes (Dduk), dasida (beef bouillon), and beef broth (all available from Amazon) in my pantry and about 30 minutes, I’m able to sate my craving for this classic Korean soup. I don’t always have seasoned brisket from the Korean market or some suitable sort of beef thawed, so that’s why I have that ingredient listed as optional. As any broth is better with some real meat cooked in it, you’ll end up with a tastier soup. But in a pinch, you can adjust the amount of dasida according to your taste. For a white girl, this quick and easy recipe for dduk-guk isn’t too shabby.
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 T dasida (Korean beef bouillon)
- 1/4 lb bulgogi (seasoned brisket) chopped (optional, but highly recommended)
- 1/4 cup onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons Korean soy sauce, or more to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- Seaweed laver, thinly sliced
- 2 cups sliced dduk, Korean rice cakes, rinsed
- Place the beef broth, cold water, dasida, onions, and garlic in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
- While making your broth, make your garnishes. Start by separating your egg. Whisk the yolk. Cook as you would an omelette in a lightly oiled small nonstick pan over medium-low heat–Pour the yolks into a thin layer and cook each side, being careful not to let it brown. Slice into thin strips. Lightly beat the whites and set aside. Slice your seaweed laver into the strips. Set aside.
- Return broth to a boil and add your chopped, marinated beef brisket. Boil for 2-3 minutes until the meat is completely cooked.
- Add your rinsed rice cakes (and mandu, if using), Stirring gently.
- Gently boil until the rice cake is soft but not mushy, about 2-4 minutes.
- While gently stirring, stream in the egg whites.
- Remove from heat once the egg whites are cooked.
- Spoon into bowls and top with egg yolk and seaweed laver ribbons.
While everyone else around the world spends the rest of the day playing traditional games and visiting with family members, this Texas family (according to Facebook’s “On this Day” reminders) tends to take our Christmas tree down. I guess that means we can say we take get the tree down by New Year’s. 😉
If you give this soup a try, I hope you enjoy. May you have an abundance of good fortune in the new year!