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Celebrating the New Year with a Traditional Korean Soup

By Gina K.

Image by hannaone from Pixabay


When I imagine the new year, the first thing that comes to my mind is all my family and relatives sitting at the dining table and waiting for warm soup. When the soup is served, everyone celebrates the new year and shares thankful words before eating. This is Tteokguk, the Korean traditional rice cake soup for the New Year celebration.


The special meaning behind Tteokguk is when you eat this soup, you’re adding one year to your age. Since Korean people use a unique age counting system that everyone gets one year added to their age on New Year’s Day, eating Tteokguk on the new year day represents that you’re starting the new year with a new age.


In Korea, families and relatives are gathered in one place to perform ancestral rites on Lunar New Year’s Day. The main dish for the day is definitely Tteokguk, which consists of rice cake, dumplings, sliced beef, and soy sauce-based soup. Rice cake and dumplings are the main ingredients, and since many people make dumplings as a part of the new year activity, it’s common to use different types of dumplings such as beef, vegetable, or kimchi dumplings. Once you are prepared with rice cake and dumplings, the rest of the steps for cooking Tteokguk are fairly easy.


First, bring the water to a boil and cook beef for 20 minutes so that it gets tender


Add the rice cakes and dumplings to the boiling soup along with the soy sauce and salt. Cover and let it cook for 7 to 8 minutes until all the rice cakes are floated.


Then, pour the egg into the soup and stir it.


Add some sesame oil, black pepper, green onion, and beef. Then serve it right away.


Cooking and eating Tteokguk with family is a special way to celebrate the New Year. It is definitely one of my favorite family activities!


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