Celebrating the Lunar New Year with Korean Rice Cake Soup

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup) 떡국

Happy Lunar New Year! We’re celebrating with the Korean soup traditionally eaten on this day – Tteokguk. Rice Cake Soup is the main dish of Seollal (Lunar New Year). It is a day to express respect and gratitude, especially to one’s elders and one’s ancestors. The white color of the rice cakes is said to symbolize purity and cleanliness while their shape represents coins, symbolizing success and prosperity.

My version of tteokguk is not exactly traditional but I sure do love symbolic meals, that is one of the reasons why Passover is a favorite holiday. Here, I make a rich stock with roasted beef bones as well as brisket – to manifest a flavorful New Year. I add hot chiles – so our year will be spicy! I garnish with a rainbow of color – for a bright, brilliant, colorful year to come. And finish with edible flowers – for beauty and grace…

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup) 떡국 Recipe

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

There are three components to this recipe – the broth, the rice cakes, and the garnishes.

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup) RecipeThe Broth

  • 3 beef bones, cut into thirds
  • 1 lb. beef brisket
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 medium korean radish, peeled and sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed

Roast the bones in a 350° oven for about 30 minutes or until they are browned. Place all the ingredients in a large soup pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the brisket is tender, about two hours. Occasionally skim the surface  to remove scum and excess fat.


  • 2 t. soy sauce
  • 2 t. fish sauce

Remove the brisket from the broth and set aside. Strain the broth, discarding all the solids. Place soup in a clean pot. Add seasonings. Bring to a boil.

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)The Rice Cakes

Soak rice cakes in water for 30 minutes. Drain. Add rice cakes to the broth and cook over a gentle boil for 8 minutes. The soup is now ready to serve.

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup) RecipeThe Garnishes

  • frizzled leek
  • egg ribbons
  • roasted seasoned seaweed
  • scallions and chiles, thinly sliced
  • sliced brisket with sesame oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper
  • edible flowers
  1. Fry thinly sliced leeks in canola oil until browned. Drain on paper towel, season with salt.
  2. Separate 2 eggs, add a pinch of salt and beat the egg yolk and egg white separately. Cook in non-stick pans to make two thin omelets. Let cool, then slice into ribbons.
  3. Slice the brisket into thin bite-sized pieces. Season with sesame oil mixture.

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

Ladle soup into warmed bowls.

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

Fan the brisket slices over the top of the rice cakes. Add mounds of egg ribbons, frizzled leek, and seaweed.

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

Finally, sprinkle the soup with scallions and chiles, and place edible flower on top.


The borage comes from my garden. The flowers bloom pink but turn a striking blue within 24 hours. The blossoms are edible and have a mild cucumber-like taste.

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

Notice the heart-shaped scallion at 7 o’clock in the photo above?

Wishing you a New Year full of love…

Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup)

…and everything delicious!

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