Tteok Guk, a type of rice cake soup that Koreans eat on New Year’s Day, is the perfect way to launch my 2015 Korean Food Project. (I know: Koreans traditionally eat tteok guk to mark New Year’s Day according to the lunar calendar. That day typically occurs in February. But I’m featuring this recipe now because Koreans who live in the U.S. often eat tteok guk on January 1, too.)

This recipe comes from a Korean cookbook published by the Korean Institute of Minnesota years ago. Since the cookbook is out of print, I am reproducing the recipe in full here.

Tteok Guk (New Year’s Day Rice Cake Soup) — 떡국


  • 3 c. frozen, sliced rice cake* (tteok)
  • ½ lb. lean beef (either flank steak or beef brisket)
  • 8 c. water or beef broth
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 green onion (or 3 scallion stalks)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • dash of black pepper

Beef seasoning:

  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce**
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

*You can buy ready-made rice cake slices at Asian grocery stores. Look in the frozen section since this item is sold frozen. (See photo above.) You can also make this type of rice cake from scratch, but it is quite laborious. (First you need to soak, strain and grind short-grain white rice to make rice flour. Then you take the rice flour and steam, pound and shape it to make rice cakes. The necessary steps are outlined here and here on Maangchi’s blog, which I think is the best English-language blog about Korean cooking.)

**Instead of regular soy sauce I substituted San-J Organic Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (available at Whole Foods or for $6.69 + shipping on


  • Soak frozen rice cake slices in cold water for 50-60 minutes.
  • Slice beef into thin strips and mix with seasoning ingredients.
  • Stir-fry seasoned beef until color changes before adding water and salt. (If using beef broth, omit salt and reserve 1/3 of stir-fried beef for garnish.)
  • Simmer soup for 45 minutes.
  • Add diagonally sliced green onion and rice cake slices to soup. (Cook only until rice cake slices rise to the surface of the cooking liquid. Do not overcook — rice cake should be chewy.)
  • Pour beaten egg into soup.
  • Sprinkle with pepper and serve.