Korean Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup (Ddeok Mandu-Guk)

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Korea has two national holidays about New year’s day. One is called Shin jung (신정, solar New year’s day) and the other one is called Gu jung (구정, lunar New year’s day – aka Chinese New year’s day). Apparently more than 90% of Koreans celebrate on lunar New year’s day.

Ddeok Guk (or Dduk Guk, 떡국) 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

Main

Rice Cake and Instant Dumpling Soup (Ddeok Mandu Guk in Korean) ingredients

Broth

  • Dried kelp (15×15 cm size)
  • 5 big dried anchovies
  • 8 cups of water
  • Minced garlic – 1 tsp
  • Ground salt – 1tsp

Vegetables

  • 1/3 of a zucchini
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 stalk of big spring onion

Toppings

  • 1 egg
  • 2 sheets of laver
  • Ground black pepper (optional)

Prep

  1. Soak the rice cake in cold water for about 20 minutes. (This is only necessary if you’re using dried rice cakes.)
  2. Thin slice the zucchini and onion.
  3. Diagonally slice the spring onion.
  4. 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.)
  5. Thin shred laver with scissors.

CookingRice Cake and Instant Dumpling Soup (Ddeok Mandu Guk in Korean) cooking

  1. Pour the water into the pot then add the kelp and anchovies.
  2. Simmer it on medium to low heat for about 15 minutes. (It looks light brownish)
  3. Take out the kelp and anchovies (I threw them away).
  4. Add the zucchini and onion. Boil it for 1 minute.
  5. Add the dumplings, rice cakes, salt, and garlic.
  6. 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)
  7. 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 Cake and Instant Dumpling Soup (Ddeok Mandu Guk in Korean)1

Note

Rice cakes for ddeok guk are called garaeddeok (가래떡)  and they are the same rice cake for ddeokbokki (Korean spicy rice cakes) but just a bit thicker. You slice them diagonally then it looks like what I used. If you buy a lot of garaeddeok, you can keep them in the freezer.

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Rice Cake and Instant Dumpling Soup (Ddeok Mandu Guk)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Korean
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Main
    -Sliced (garaeddeok) rice cake 400 g
    -Instant dumplings 12 pieces -You can use home made dumplings instead.
  • Broth
    -Dried kelp (15×15 cm size)
    -5 big dried anchovies
    -8 cups of water
    -Minced garlic – 1 tsp
    -Ground salt – 1tsp
  • Vegetables
    -1/3 of a zucchini
    -1/2 an onion
    -1 stalk of big spring onion
  • Toppings
    -1 egg
    -2 sheets of laver
    -Ground black pepper (optional)
Instructions
Prep
  1. Soak the rice cake in cold water for about 20 minutes. (This is only necessary if you’re using dried rice cakes.)
  2. Thin slice the zucchini and onion.
  3. Diagonally slice the spring onion.
  4. 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.)
  5. Thin shred laver with scissors.
Cooking
  1. Pour the water into the pot then add the kelp and anchovies.
  2. Simmer it on medium to low heat for about 15 minutes. (It looks light brownish)
  3. Take out the kelp and anchovies (I threw them away).
  4. Add the zucchini and onion. Boil it for 1 minute.
  5. Add the dumplings, rice cakes, salt, and garlic.
  6. 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)
  7. 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 .

 

About Sue

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the author/cook/photographer behind My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

Comments

  1. Hi, I just had Ddeok Mandu Guk at my friends….I fell in love with it and want to make it. I have one problem though I cannot seem to find a store were they sell the rice cakes i have looked and looked they dont seem to be there. Is there some sort of place you can buy it online? I live in williamsburg, Va and we dont have any Korean Grocery stores eaither. :[

  2. Hi Crystal,

    Do you know Japanese Konbu? I think that is same as kelp (Thick, big, and wide). Laver (Japanese nori) is also a type of seaweed that people use for sushi rolls (maki) or Kimbap if you are familiar with that food.

    Well, I have no idea if you can use canned anchovies or not.
    I think 5 dried anchovies weigh less than 20g, but I haven’t measure it before. However it is pretty light. The main purpose of using anchovies is to make a deep taste broth. Well I guess if that is the only option you have, give it a try. Or just make a broth with kelp. I sometimes do that too.
    Take care.

  3. Hello Sue,
    You are amazing! First of all, Happy New Year (I’m Chinese, but we all celebrate new years around the same time!) I’m a student living in Toronto, Ontario. I’m originally from Vancouver, BC. In BC, I rarely go to Korean restaurants because my family didn’t go often, but the few times I’ve been, I’ve always liked Ddeok Guk. Now that I’m in my third year of university in Toronto, I’ve realized there is a LOT of Korean food in Toronto. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make Ddeok Guk and of all the recipes I’ve found, this seems to be the most traditional way.

    I do have a few questions however, what is the difference between Kelp and Laver?

    Also, we don’t have a lot of fish markets here, so it’s really difficult to find dried anchovies. I did, however, found cans of anchovy fillets that are 50g each so 100g total, is that about equivalent to 5 large dried anchovies? Can we use canned anchovies? Or do they have to be fresh?

  4. After all the New Year partying something bland was refreshing.I like Sollung Tang for that reason too and just pepper and leeks liven it up a little.

    The price of beef bones in Korea is so exorbitant though,in Australia you’ll probably pick them up for free.

  5. It is so neat that you can celebrate the New Year two times! This traditional dish sounds really delicious. Happy New Year!

  6. Hi beastmom,

    Taegu is not a small city. The city where I live now is 10 times smaller than where you come from population wise. :)
    I don’t know where I got the idea from about adding the zucchini, I haven’t seen or heard of other people adding zucchini in ddeok guk too. Happy New Year to you too.

    Hi John,

    I think ddeok guk is supposed to have a bland /light/ simple taste and mine was too. So if you want a stronger taste, adjust the taste with pepper as you said (or have some Kimchi). I just love the pepper on ddeok guk. I noticed some people add oysters, I might add some too some other time.

  7. That’s funny,I had ddok guk with people from school today and they told me of that proverb too.

    It was pretty bland.I think I needed something quite plain and easy on my stomach.

    Not bad,though I prefer mandu guk with a pepper sauce.

    There were a few tiny oysters in the ddok guk I had today

  8. My husband teases that I cook the peasant way. His family is city, and mine was from Taegu. :)

    I make my ddeok guk using dark meat chicken pieces that I make a stock from. And I don’t pre-cook the eggs – just dump them in and swirl quickly. And I sometimes dump raw beef slices in each bowl (It immediately cooks since the soup is poured in boiling hot.) I’ve never used sliced zucchini – yours look so nicely presented! So I’ll have to add that next year to make my New Year’s presentation more “refined” looking. Thanks for sharing your recipe and for the photos.

    Happy New Year!
    -beast mom

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