December is absolutely my favorite month! There are so many things to be thankful for – cookies, birthday (read: cake), presents, family time, holidays, Christmas, vacation, and so much more. I always look forward to December because it’s the only time when our big family gets together, to share and pray, and to do secret Santa. I always think family tradition is something special and has to be preserved, so today I’d like to introduce you my close friend, Alice of Hip Foodie Mom, who will share how she keeps her family tradition alive.
In Korea, on New Year’s Day, the traditional Korean food dish is Duk Mandu Guk (Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup). When I was growing up, I loved waking up New Year’s Day and making fresh, homemade mandu (dumplings) with my mother. We would steam and fry some of them up as we would go and would snack on the mandu all day and enjoy the Duk Mandu Guk (soup) as a family. It was perfect for a cold day and warmed your entire body. It was so wonderful and a tradition that I still do with my own family. We don’t always make the mandu from scratch (definitely takes time and effort!) but there will always be Duk Mandu Guk at my house on New Year’s Day. You know it.
Another tradition that we kept while I was growing up, was bowing to my parents and all my relatives and getting their blessings or good wishes for the New Year. . as children, we would also get money which was a big bonus so there was never any hesitation when we had to get down and bow. In fact, all the kids would be practicing in the hallway or something to ensure we were doing it right.
I love that I can keep this tradition going with my own family! I hope you enjoy!
Duk Mandu Guk (Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup)
- About 1½ pounds (or one bag) of sliced rice cakes. You can find this at any Korean or Asian grocery store; look for the ones that look like flower petals.
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- ½ pound beef brisket or steak, but into 1/4 or 1/2 inch pieces
- Course salt
- 6-7 cups cold water
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 scallions or green onions (+ a few more for garnish), cut into 1 or 2-inch pieces
- 15-20 pieces of ready made frozen dumplings (any kind)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 sheets toasted gim or nori seaweed (for garnish)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cover and soak the rice cake pieces in cold water for at least 1 hour. You can even soak them overnight and leave them in the fridge. Drain.
- Heat the sesame oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the meat has been browned on all sides, for about 4-5 minutes. Add about 6-7 cups of cold water (or enough to cover your meat and then some; this will become the soup broth so you want to make sure you have enough), cover the pot, increase the heat to high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring the temp down to low and let simmer for at least 20-30 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.
- Add the fish sauce and frozen dumplings, and garlic and season with salt. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes. Then, add the drained rice cakes and let boil for another 6-8 minutes. Keep checking the rice cakes to ensure you are not over-cooking. Add the scallions or green onions and cook for another minute.
- Using a large wooden spoon, stir the soup and pour in the beaten eggs, while stirring. They will cook instantly and break into small, feathery bits. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with more green onions and some cut or crumbled gim (seaweed).