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  • Writer's pictureM Smith

Tteok Mandu Guk (Korean Rice Cake Dumpling Soup) 떡 만두국

What is it? It’s damn delicious; that’s what it is! It’s a Korean rice cake soup with dumplings! Tkeok (rice cake) Mandu (dumping) Guk (soup).

If you watch K-dramas, which I’m obsessed with, the characters are always eating delicious food. I’m not sure what I like more, the stories or when they go out to eat. I do get annoyed when the characters never finish their food because something dramatic always happens. All that food waste! When they eat rice cake soup or dumpling soup in dramas, I’m instantly hungry.

There’s a history to this soup. I’m not an expert in Korean food history, but rice cakes date as far back as early as 200 B.C. The first use of rice cakes inside a soup is unknown, but whoever made that discovery is a genius. You can read more about the history and meaning of the soup here.

Tteok Mandu Guk is traditionally a Lunar New Year dish but is now eaten mostly during the cold months and sometimes eaten with just the rice cake, sans dumpling, sometimes without the rice cakes and just dumplings. Tteok Mandu Guk consists of soft and chewy rice cakes, and dumplings served in pipping hot stock and decorated with savoury toppings. It’s a hearty dish, and trust me; you won’t be hungry for hours afterwards.

I make my stock with beef brisket, dried anchovies, kombu, green onions, white onions, garlic, fish sauce and aged soy sauce as the base. I know the onions and garlic are not in the picture, as I forgot to add it to my broth until halfway through the process! I was cooking in between work meetings, and time got away from me!

Here is my recipe for Tteok Mandu Guk

Kimchi Mandu. Find the recipe here.


  • 12 cups of cold water

  • 1 pound of beef brisket or chicken (if you’re using chicken, use a whole chicken)

  • 1 white onion

  • 2-3 stalks of green onions (scallions)

  • 1 head of garlic, left whole and unpeeled (no need to waste all that time peeling garlic)

  • 1 bag of anchovy stock mix or 3-4 dried anchovies - This is optional ( you can buy it at any Korean grocery store)

  • 1 sheet of kombu (dried edible kelp)

  • 3 tablespoons of good quality soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce (this is in place of salt)

  • A drizzle of sesame oil (optional to add some nuttiness to the broth)


  • In a large stockpot, add your water, beef, onions, green onions, garlic, anchovies and kombu. Bring the contents to a gentle boil, skimming the scum that forms on the surface of the stock with a spoon or a skimmer. Reduce the stock and simmer for 2 hours, or until the brisket is tender

  • After two hours, remove the brisket and set aside for later. Using your skimmer or a slotted spoon, remove the onions, garlic and kombu, leaving only the broth

  • Stir in your soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil

  • Keep your stock warm and move onto your rice cakes and your toppings

Rice Cakes and Mandu

  • Soak your rice cakes for 30 minutes before using

  • If your mandu (homemade or store-bought) are frozen, take them out and put them into your steamer. Steam according to instructions. You should steam your dumplings 10 minutes before you assemble your soup. Aim for 4 - 6 dumplings per person, depending on their size or how hungry you are


  • Eggs

  • Nori (dried seaweed)

  • Shredded beef brisket

  • Green onions


  • Separate your egg whites and egg yolks. Whisk your yolks until smooth. In a lightly greased non-stick pan, on low to medium heat, cook the egg whites like you would an omelette - when finished, transfer to a cutting board. Repeat this step with your egg yolks. Slice the cooked whites and yolks into thin strips. Make sure you don’t brown the eggs while cooking! If you do, it’s not a deal-breaker

  • Shred your brisket into thin strips and set aside

  • Using a pair of scissors (it’s an Asian thing), cut your seaweed into thin strips, and cut your green onions into smaller bite-size pieces

Assemble The Soup!

  • Bring your stock back to a gentle boil, and add your drained rice cakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until soft - the rice cakes will float to the top when finished. Be careful, if you overcook the rice cakes, they will be mushy, and you will be sad!

  • Ladle the hot soup and rice cakes into your serving bowl, add your steamed dumplings, your toppings and serve!

  • You can also boil your dumplings in your broth if you don’t want to steam your dumplings; however, I find it makes the stock thick from the starch

  • I like to serve mine with Kimchi!


Note: Lien will only be making the dumplings! She will try the soup another time.

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