Korean Rice Cake Soup
For many, New Year's Day is a time to honor cooking traditions, such as black-eyed peas. With my boyfriend's Korean family, we always sip dduk gook, a clean and soothing soup made with rice cakes, green onions, eggs and seaweed. In addition to being a lucky New Year dish, dduk gook can also be a simple comfort food for any winter day.
One of my cooking resolutions is to document family members' recipes, so it was really special to start the year learning how to make this dish from my boyfriend's mom. Because I'm a vegetarian, she has adapted many of her traditional recipes, and in this case my boyfriend says he actually prefers the meatless version!
Traditionally, dduk gook is made with beef, chicken, or anchovy broth and sometimes includes meat-filled mandoo, or dumplings. This version uses vegetarian broth made from radish, onion, carrot and kombu. (A member of the kelp family, kombu is a versatile pantry ingredient that provides dishes with umami flavor, nutrients and minerals. Dried kombu can be used to make broth, added to beans to make them more digestible, and eaten in salads.).
This soup's main ingredient, dduk, is made of rice, and the texture is a cross between mochi and pasta -- chewy, filling and comforting. You can find flat ovals of dduk -- as well as kombu, daikon and roasted seaweed -- at Korean or Asian markets. These markets are becoming more prevalent around the country, but if you don't have one near you, you can order ingredients online at KoaMart (www.koamart.com) and Hmart (www.hmart.com).
For the roasted seaweed, Korean-style seaweed seasoned with sesame oil and salt is preferable, but plain roasted seaweed sheets are also fine to use (just season the soup with sesame oil and salt or soy sauce, if desired).
Vegetarian Dduk Gook (Korean Rice Cake Soup)
6 cups water
1/4 pound Korean radish or daikon, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
6-inch strip kombu
1 pound dduk (oval rice cakes), soaked in water overnight or at least 2 hours
3 scallions, coarsely chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 sheets roasted seaweed
To make broth, combine broth ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Strain.
To make soup, bring broth to a simmer. Add dduk and simmer for 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine scallions and egg. Add to the pot and stir until distributed.
Tear and crumble seaweed into the pot and stir until combined.
Serve hot. Garnish with black pepper to taste.
Emily Ho is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking
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