Korean Food : New Year Culture, Rice Cake Pasta Soup at Home

When I was young, I wanted to grow quicker to be an adult, so I ate it two or even three bowls to get older. Will you eat it, if you gain one more year through it?

No or Yes?

You might not believe even the existence of it. But it exists in Korea. When you eat this food, you will get one year older. Do you want to know what food it is?


rice cake soup

 This is it. You might have seen it somewhere, or already eaten it. This food is called ‘tteok guk’ in Korean meaning rice cake pasta soup. This is the korean traditional new year food.

When do korean eat rice cake pasta soup?

We eat rice caken pasta soup twice a year; the solar new year day and lunar(chinese) new year day. The solar calendar new year is the 1st of January, most people know, while the lunar new year day is around the beginning of February. The lunar new year day changes every year as the lunar calendar changes.

Technically, we eat rice cake pasta soup on the lunar new year day, because we used to use the lunar calendar at the time we celebrated it. However, people started to eat it at the 1st of January as well, as the profound meaning of eating this soup is commemorating the new year, and then it became a tradition.  


The particular type of rice cake : Bar rice cake

We make rice cake pasta soup only with a particular type of rice cake. That is bar rice cake, called ‘Garae ddeok’ in Korean. It is long thick-strip like super-thick spaghetti with diameter of 3cm.

This bar rice cake embrace two implicit meanings.

Firstly, bar rice cake symbolizes the purity and hope for longevity. Its pure white color  signifies the new start with new clear mind. Like its long shape, we wish our long life expectancy.

Secondly, bar rice cake also implies the desire for wealth. As it comes along out from the machine, money hopefully comes ceaselessly out to eaters. On the other hand, it is sliced while cooking and served. It looks like just like a coin, that was only currency in the past. We just hope to be richer eating this money-shaped food.

The Strange Expression to Say hello at The new year.

As I mentioned on the head, you gain one year when you eat rice cake pasta soup. It leads to the unique and strange expression to say hello at the new year.

We often ask, “Have you eaten rice cake soup pasta this year?” meaning happy new year. We also ask “How many rice cake pasta soup have you eaten since born?” meaning “How old are you?”.


I am not like the child as I was, who ate two or three bowls of rice cake pasta soup. I’ve been old enough as a grown up. Yes, I think I had enough. I shouldn’t eat it anymore, but it’s so delicious that I cannot resist it.

Do you want to get older, or want to avoid eating it? I ascertain that you cannot help eating it when you look at the hot bowl with chewy rice cake in its mysterious white soup.

              Happy New Year !

                                                and... Try Rice Cake Pasta Soup This New year.

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Posted by Food Storyist

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