Lunar New Year Isn't All Rice Cake Soup


    February 05, 2019 08:35

    The most common traditional dish Koreans eat on Lunar New Year's Day is tteokguk or rice cake soup, but there are many others that can enrich the holiday.

    Take, for example, traditional deserts like yakgwa and dasik. Yakgwa is made with a flour dough mixed with honey, clear rice wine and ginger juice and then fried in oil.

    Dasik is a traditional cookie served in ancestral rites and pressed into various patterns from flowers to letters, each piece in a different color.

    Three different-colored vegetable dishes, typically made with bellflower roots, bracken and spinach, are also a fixture. Bellflower roots symbolize the ancestors rooted in the past, while bracken, a stem vegetable, symbolizes those in the present, while spinach, a leaf vegetable, symbolizes their descendants in the future.

    On the other hand, red food was mostly avoided because it carried negative associations.

    Various rich foods like pyeonyuk (slices of boiled meat), galbijjim (steamed short ribs), jeon (Korean pancakes), japchae (stir-fried cellophane noodles with thinly sliced beef and a variety of vegetables) and sikhye (rice punch) are also associated with the holiday.

    In the morning, Koreans traditionally drank homemade rice wine. Each household made the wine with a secret recipe, which was handed down for generations.

    One interesting aspect is that it was drunk in the order of age from youngest to oldest. Young people drank it first as they earned a year of life, and old people drank later as they lost one year. It was served cold. According to a Chosun-era book on rituals and rites, people believed that spring begins with the Lunar New Year, so they welcomed it with a clear mind by drinking cold wine.

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