Korea has two national holidays about New years day. One is called Shin jung (solar New years day) and the other one is called Gu jung (lunar New years day – Chinese New years day) Apparently more than 90% of people celebrate on lunar New years day and less than 10% of people celebrate on solar New years day.
Ddeok Guk is the core meal of New Years day in Korea, but Koreans eat it on normal days as well. It means purity (from its white color), maturity (there is a saying that if you have Ddeok guk on New years day, you get one year older, its further meaning is I wish you become mature), wishing long life (rice cakes used for ddeok guk are very long) and rich (rice cakes’ shape looks like currency in the old days). Of course as a kid I wanted to grow up faster, so I ate too much Ddeok Guk and got sick instead.
The Ddeok guk I made was enough for one meal without any rice. I added some instant dumplings, some Koreans prefer eating rice cake soup in this way and they use handmade dumplings. My recipe below is a simple version, the traditional version includes pheasant meat, but now it is rare, people use beef instead. Yet I didn’t even add beef here.
Ingredients for 4 people
- Dried kelp (15×15 cm size)
- 5 big dried anchovies
- 8 cups of water
- Minced garlic – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1tsp
- 1/3 of a zucchini
- 1/2 an onion
- 1 stalk of big spring onion
- 1 egg
- 2 sheets of laver
- Pepper (optional)
- Soak the rice cake in cold water for about 20 minutes. (If it is dried)
- Thin slice the zucchini and onion.
- Diagonally slice the spring onion.
- Beat the egg, pan fry it, and thin slice it. (Normally you fry the egg white part and yolk part separately, but I cooked it together. It is up to you.)
- Thin shred laver with scissors.
- Pour the water into the pot then add the kelp and anchovies.
- Simmer it on medium to low heat for about 15 minutes. (It looks light brownish)
- Take out the kelp and anchovies (I threw them away).
- Add the zucchini and onion. Boil it for 1 minute.
- Add the dumplings, rice cakes, salt, and garlic.
- Boil it until it cooks. (It takes 3-4 minutes) Add the spring onion 30 seconds before you serve the dish. (I forgot to add it, and you can adjust the taste with salt)
- Serve it in a bowl with the toppings on top (egg and laver). You can add pepper if you want. I always do, I love sprinkles of pepper .
Rice cakes for ddeok guk are called garaeddeok and they are the same rice cake for ddeokbokki(stir fried rice cake with gochujang) but just a bit thicker. You slice them diagonally then it looks like what I used. If you bought a lot of garaeddeok, you can keep them in the freezer.