Oyster rice cake soup is a classic Korean dish for cool weather

Gul tteokguk or oyster rice cake soup.
Gul tteokguk or oyster rice cake soup.PHOTO: KOREAN BAPSANG

(THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It’s a Korean tradition to eat this soup, made with white oval rice cakes, to welcome a bright, prosperous new year. Also, it’s a classic comfort food at any time of the year, especially in cold months.

Tteokguk is usually made with beef broth, but try it with oysters for a change. The intense briny flavour of the oysters plays off the soft, starchy rice cakes quite well.

For soups, small oysters work better because chopped up oysters don’t look as appetising as small intact oysters. Oysters are packed with essential vitamins, protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc and more - highly nutritional if you’re thinking of healthy eating for the new year.

If you like a lighter soup, parboil the rice cake slices separately in boiling water until soft before adding them to the broth. It’s a good way to keep the soup from becoming too thick and starchy.

250g rice cake slices (tteokguk tteok) 
g small shucked oysters
8cm square dried kelp (dashima) (optional)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp
 soup soya sauce or fish sauce
1/2 scallion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnish
1 egg 
1/4 sheet roasted laver (dried seaweed sheet), cut into thin, short strips with kitchen shears


  1. Soak the rice cakes in cold water for 10 to 20 minutes.
  2. Clean the oysters by gently swishing them around in salted water. Drain. Rinse again in clean water and drain again.
  3. Add six cups of water and the optional dried kelp to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for five minutes. 
  4. To make the optional egg garnish (jidan), separate the egg. Lightly beat the white by gently cutting it with a spoon. Stir the yolk with a spoon until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Pour each egg part into a thin layer, tilting the skillet and/or spreading with a spoon. Cook each side briefly until no visible liquid remains. Slice into small diamond-shaped pieces or short thin strips.
  5. Remove the kelp if used. Add the rice cake slices, garlic and soya sauce (or fish sauce) and cook until very soft. 
  6. Drop the oysters in. Cook for a couple of minutes after the soup comes to a boil again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the scum. Ladle the steaming soup into individual bowls and top with the scallion and the optional egg and laver strips.

Serves two.