Warm and gently flavored, savory but simple, this soup says "peace." Soup of fowl always speaks to me of rest for some reason, and so on this cold winter Sunday after an extremely busy week, I found this soup to be the perfect thing.
I'd been eyeing this Korean soup recipe for a while, since it features the amazing chewy rice cakes (think along the lines of super thick mochi-like noodles) that I love so much. These rice cakes, known as ddeok (떡), come in many different shapes and can be used in sweet as well as savory dishes. Here, they are the centerpiece for this soup (guk, or 국), but in any form, they are so fun to chew on!
It's such a simple recipe, especially if you have a leftover bird roast (a recently roasted turkey provided a great stock and the leftover meat bits that I used here). It's pretty easy without a leftover roast as well: just substitute water for the stock and boil some chopped raw beef brisket (which is traditional) or chicken in it to simultaneously create both your broth and cooked meat. Even though this was my first time making ddeokguk, I think it took me less than 30 minutes, so be encouraged about giving this a try! And plus, since ddeokguk is traditionally served to celebrate the New Year (albeit the Korean calendar is lunar-based), this is a great season to make it!
For garnish, top each bowl with some yellow strips of cooked egg yolk and crumbled flakes of kim (sheets of seaweed similar to Japanese nori, but seasoned with sesame oil and deliciously salty!). If you want to keep it simple, like I did on this restful Sunday, don't worry about side dishes. But since this soup is so subtly flavored, I do think some spicy, stuffed cucumber kimchi (oisobagi) would be a perfect complement.
Ddeokguk (떡국) Korean Rice Cake Soup
Adapted from Maangchi
6 cups turkey stock
4 cups (~20 oz) sliced Korean rice cake for soup (ddeok, 떡, sliced in oval shape)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. fish sauce (aekjeot, 액젓)
2 cups shredded turkey meat
2 large green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
3 eggs, divided (see below)
2 tsp. roasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 sheets crispy-toasted seasoned laver (kim, 김), crumbled to small flakes
Soak 4 cups sliced Korean rice cake (ddeokguk ddeok, 떡국떡) in cold water for about 10 minutes.
Place 6 cups of turkey stock in a large pot and add the minced garlic and fish sauce. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.
While stock comes to boil, prepare the egg yolk garnish and the egg white mixture. For the egg yolk garnish (gyeran noreunja jidan, 게란 노른자 지단), whisk two egg yolks together. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, then lightly oil the pan with vegetable oil (wipe excess off with a paper towel). Pour the whisked egg yolks onto the hot pan, tilting pan to spread the yolk and form a thin pancake. Turn off heat. When yolk has nearly set, flip over and finish cooking the other side. Remove from pan and slice into matchstick-size strips.
Whisk the two leftover egg whites together with the remaining whole egg and set aside.
Drain the ddeok and add to the boiling stock. Cover and return to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent ddeok from sticking to the bottom, then remove lid (to prevent soup from boiling over) and continue to cook several minutes at a full boil, until ddeok rise to the top and are soft but still chewy.
Stir in the cooked turkey meat and sliced green onions and bring soup back to a boil. Slowly pour the egg white mixture over the bubbling soup. Drizzle roasted sesame oil in and taste the broth, adjusting the seasoning with salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.
Ladle portions into bowls and garnish each bowl with strips of egg yolk and crumbled kim.