Happy New Year everyone!
Wow, it’s finally 2011 huh? A new decade… It’s a year for new possibilities, infinite opportunities, and AMAZING CHANGES!!
And also awesome food. But first, a little background info on New Year’s:
New Year’s Day is the most important holiday to Koreans – beating even Christmas, it’s probably rivaled only by the Harvest Moon festival in the autumn. It has a long tradition of family getting together to celebrate and welcome the New Year with gratitude for having lived well in the past year, and also a feeling of anticipation for the year to come. Children bow to their elders, receiving advice and money for the next year; people also don’t clean their houses out of fear that they might sweep out the good luck that enters their homes for the new year.
If my family lived in Korea, we would have gone to our grandparents house and met up with all our relatives. But since we’re all by our lonesome selves here in New Jersey, we had a private, Choi family celebration with my mom (as usual) putting together some mouth-wateringly delicious eats.
The most important New Year’s food that every Korean absolutely HAS to have this day is…
떡국 (duk gook)! Or better known as the “unreasonably delicious bowl of chewy rice cakes swimming in a hot broth with juicy dumplings.”
This is the ubiquitous Korean New Year’s food – Korean restaurants even give out bowls of this stuff for free on New Year’s Day. But why go to a restaurant when you can have a delicious homemade version, lovingly made by your mommy???
Seriously, this is comfort food at its best. The broth is warm, the rice cakes are soft and chewy, and the dumplings are just bursting with filling, leaking their dumpling-juices out into the bowl.
Hooooo yes. It is delicious.
But it doesn’t end there.
My mom also griddled up some 빈대떡 (bindaedduk) – little cakes made from ground up beans and mixed with vegetables and pork, then cooked until golden and crispy.
AND she made 갈비찜 (kalbi jjeem), or slow-braised beef ribs and vegetables.
It was rich, hearty, and tender but still with some chew to it. We Koreans like to gnaw on our meat.
So, while my mom was busy putting together a New Year’s Day feast, I made this:
Wuttheckisthat you ask? I know, it looks like a model of the Sahara Desert, or something. Well, you’re gonna have to take my word for it when I say it tastes A WHOLE LOT better than it looks.
It’s actually baked 떡! That is, a sheet of baked rice cakes. Most dduks or mochis are made by steaming, but I made this by mixing together rice powder, brown sugar, water, raisins, walnuts, red bean, and dates then throwing it into the oven for an hour. The end result is a crispy-on-the outside, chewy-on-the-inside pan o’ nutty, just sweet enough rice cake. My dad loves this – together we’ve been downing them like crazy.
So that was my New Year’s eats – but lately, my mom’s been so into cooking that I’ve definitely put on a few pounds, and our refrigerator is filled to bursting with leftovers. I’ll save that for the next post, but you guys are going to be amazed at all the delicious food I’ve been eating – and a lot of it’s non-Korean too.
So until then, stay warm and safe!