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새해 복 많이 받으세요.

may you have much good fortune in the new year.image borrowed from wikipedia

my mother immigrated from seoul at the tender age of 21–very pregnant, and newly married to my father, an american solider. south korea has had the highest population density in the world for some time now, and even 30 years ago, it was a very large city. of all the places in the united states, my mother landed in fayetteville, north carolina, at fort bragg. she craved korean foods that were simply not available, and was likely rather miserable. now she delights in her ability to eat the foods she grew up with whenever she wants, and is currently teaching me how to make these traditional foods.

koreans eat 떡국 ttŏkkuk, or rice cake soup, for the lunar new year. my mom makes it for us at the beginning of january and it is always delicious. the hot rice cakes in the broth are creamy, and the beef broth is rich. we garnish the soup with dried salty seaweed and sesame seeds. we drink barley tea and eat korean-style rice rolls–my favorite food of all!

start a new tradition and give it a try–rice cakes are delicious! this recipe is from http://www.maangchi.com

sliced rice cake, beef brisket, garlic, fish sauce, green onion, eggs, laver (dried sea plant), sesame oil, black ground pepper


  1. Boil 8 cups of water in a pot.
  2. Soak 3 cups of sliced rice cake in cold water.
  3. Chop 100 grams (about 1 cup-1.5 cup) of beef brisket into small pieces.
  4. Prepare 3 eggs in 2 small bowls:
    In the first bowl, put 2 egg yolk;
    In the second bowl, put 2 egg white and 1 egg;
    Add a pinch of salt to each bowl and mix well.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, you can make your garnishes, starting with gyeran noreunja jidan (thin egg yolk strips):

  • Heat up a non-stick pan. Let it get really hot. Add a few drops of vegetable oil, and wipe off the excess hot oil with a paper towel.
  • Turn the heat off. Pour the egg yolk mixture from “bowl 1″ above into the pan and spread it thinly. You want to make a thin yellow paper out of the egg by tilting the pan.
  • When it’s cooked about 70%, turn it over and let it sit on the pan to cook the other side.
  • Slice it thinly and set it aside.

Now let’s make kimgaru (laver powder). This one is easy:

  • Roast a sheet of laver (kim) directly on the stove top. Both sides of the laver should be roasted so that it can be crushed easily.
  • Put the roasted laver into a plastic bag and crush it! Then set it aside.

For the soup:

  1. When the water boils, put in the beef. Boil over low medium heat for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Open the lid and add 1 clove of minced garlic, 2 tbs of fish sauce.
    *tip: the water will boil off but you want to keep it at 6 cups. You can add more water as you need it.
  3. Drain the rice cake slices and put them into boiling beef soup. Close the lid.
  4. A few minutes later, open the lid to check if rice cake slices are floating on the surface. You can taste a sample now.
  5. Pour in the egg mix from “bowl 2″ above, a little at a time.
    *tip: Don’t stir it until the egg mixture is cooked a little in the broth
  6. Chop some green onion and add it to the pot.
  7. Turn off the heat and drizzle some sesame oil and grind a little black pepper.
  8. Transfer the rice cake soup to serving bowls. Garnish with the roasted laver powder and the thin egg yolk strips.

wishing you a lovely 2010.