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조랭이떡국, 떡국

Tteokguk for the New Year

On the morning of the New Year’s Day, we have soup that “makes you older”

Written by
Hye Won Kim
In Korea, there’s the saying that eating tteokguk (rice cake soup) makes you a year older. That’s why some people even call it cheomsebyeong (添歲餠, rice cake that makes you older). However, no one’s quite sure as to when this soup was invented. We can only have some idea about its origins through old records such as Dongguk Sesigi, which was published during the late Joseon Dynasty. There are various meanings given to the soup as well. Some believe that people started using white rice cakes for the soup for a clean, fresh new start of the year to come and others believe that it was to wish for affluence as the round shape of the rice cake resembles that of a coin.

Different tteokguk (rice cake soup) from different regions

Kaesong Work it! Their dumbbellshaped rice cake’s their trademark.
Chungcheong The need for speed. They make fresh dough out of rice powder and warm water, and then boil it right away.
Gangwon Coo-coo for doo-boo. Since Ganeung’s known for their tofu, it goes in their soup as well.
Jeolla Finger lickin’ good. They use chicken broth for the soup.
Gyeongsang Like it fishy? Anchovies are used for the soup’s broth, and later they add oysters.
Jeju Goes truly under the sea and uses a type of seaweed called mohm.

Best tteokguk restaurant

  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Jongno-gu
  • price 2 of 4
Koong is the top Seoul eatery for Gaeseong mandu (Gaeseong-style dumplings). The sight of the cooks shaping the dumplings by hand in the restaurant recalls the studio of a master craftsman. The restaurant began as a small business in the house of the founder, and as news of the dumplings spread, so too did the business. The current proprietor follows in the footsteps of the mother and grandmother, who was the original founder. It’s frequently the case that the original taste changes as the business is handed down, but not so with Koong—the taste of their dumplings remains exactly as it was years ago. Supposedly we have the many loyal patrons to thank for this consistency, as they’re not shy about voicing their opinions at the slightest change in the taste of the broth or the dumplings. The soft dumpling skins—rolled out in-house—are generously stuffed with pork, green bean sprouts, tofu, Napa cabbage, and leek. The main attraction is the uniquely gentle and lightly seasoned flavor of the Gaesong-style dumpling. In appearance, too, these dumplings are so prettily and elegantly shaped that it’s almost enough to make you feel bad as you bite into them. Yet there’s no special recipe. If you were to single out some trick in their method it’s that they mix the dumpling filling by hand. A machine just can't compete with the taste of a hand-mixed filling. You can’t skip the ddeokmanduguk (soup with rice cakes and dumplings), with dumplings, hand-shaped joraengiddeok (rice cakes shape
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