Dduk Guk (“Korean Rice Cake Soup”)

A traditional Korean celebratory soup, courtesy of Danny Lee (Col ’03)

Main dish, serves 4–6
Dduk Guk (“Korean Rice Cake Soup”)

Rice cakes are a symbol of longevity in Korean culture, according to Danny Lee, who has served up award-winning Korean food at several D.C. restaurants for more than a decade. He is currently co-owner and chef of Mandu, ChiKo and (opening in early 2019) Anju. In 2018, ChiKo was named No. 25 of the 100 best restaurants by Washingtonian magazine. “Our holiday tables are always interesting,” Lee says, “due to the fact that I was born in the U.S., while my parents were immigrants. So my mom … will make traditional holiday foods such as turkey, hams, roasts, etc., but then we’ll also have kimchi, rice, Korean bbq, etc. It’s an amazing feast.”


½ lb.
beef brisket
1 sheet
kombu (seaweed)—approx. 4 x 4-inch square
Canola oil
1 tsp.
garlic, minced
¼ lb.
ground beef (80/20)
1 tsp.
black pepper
1 tsp.
soy sauce
3 cups
sliced Korean Rice Cakes (found in any Korean market), soaked in cold water and strained
2 stalks
scallion, chopped
1 sheet
roasted nori (seaweed), cut into thin strips


  1. Soak the brisket in a pot of cold water for 10 minutes, then strain and rinse.
  2. Fill a soup pot with 8 cups of water and place on high heat. Place the brisket and kombu in the pot and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, lower heat to medium and simmer for one hour, occasionally skimming the top layer with a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Remove kombu and discard. Remove brisket and place on cutting board. Slice brisket against the grain into - to ¼-inch thick rectangular slices, then set aside. Strain broth into another soup pot and set aside.
  4. Place a skillet on medium high heat and add a touch of canola (or any neutral) oil. Add garlic and stir until soft, being careful not to burn. Add ground beef and stir to brown the beef. When the beef is almost browned, strain out the fat and place back on heat.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, and thoroughly mix into beef until beef is cooked through. Set aside in a separate bowl.
  6. Whisk 2 eggs thoroughly and pass through a mesh strainer into a separate mixing bowl. Take a nonstick pan (8- to 10-inch) and wipe the surface with an oil-soaked paper towel. Place pan on low heat, pour strained egg batter onto the pan and roll pan so the egg evenly covers the entire surface. Once egg starts to cook and becomes firm, flip over and cook the other side just for 10 seconds to cook off any residual egg batter.
  7. Place the thin omelet onto a cutting board and roll it. Then take a knife and julienne the rolled omelet into strips (roughly -inch wide) and set aside.

Soup Assembly

  1. Add rice cakes and sliced brisket into the broth. Place on high heat and bring to a boil, stirring so the rice cakes do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add soy sauce, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the rice cakes become very soft and chewy.
  2. Ladle the rice cakes evenly into four bowls, and then ladle the broth into the bowls so that the liquid just covers the top of the rice cakes.
  3. Garnish with the diced scallion, omelet strips, seasoned ground beef and seaweed strips. Sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper.