Happy Lunar New Year!

happy lunar new year written in english and korean 새해 복 많이 받으세요

happy lunar new year written in english and korean 새해 복 많이 받으세요

I lived in Korea for four years. Needless to say, I picked up some habits and traditions during my time there. One of these traditions is celebrating the Lunar New Year (Seollal), in addition to the Gregorian New Year. I returned to the United States in the summer of 2016, so this is the first year I’ve celebrated outside of Korea.

Lunar New Year is a pretty big deal in Korea. Almost everyone gathers with their family to perform ancestral rites, play traditional games, and eat a lot of food. Where I live now, there’s almost no sign of celebration. So, I decided to celebrate in the ways I could.

I bought Hangwa (한과), Korean traditional candy and sweets, and made ddeokguk (Tteokguk / 뗙국). Ddeokguk is considered to be the most important New Year’s food. During Seollal, everyone adds a year to their age, and eating ddeokguk is the main step in completing this process.

ddeokguk written in the foreground in english and korean, with a picture of ddeokguk in the background

Ddeokguk (tteokguk) is made with beef broth, beef, ddeok (rice cakes), and garnish that usually includes dried seaweed, egg, and green onion.

I used ideas from two Ddeokguk recipes: Korean Bapsang and My Korean Kitchen. When you see the soup, it looks so simple but making it is actually quite time-consuming.

ddeokguk tteokguk beef broth in a pot

Making beef broth for ddeokguk. (Water, yellow onion, green onion, garlic, beef, and seasoning)

Full disclosure: the ddeokguk I made wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t how I remember it and I don’t think this is due to the recipes. Nevertheless, it was fun to make and made me feel like I was somehow participating in the Seollal celebrations I became so fond of.


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