Miyeok guk (Seaweed Soup)
The Traditional Birthday Treat
: Miyeok-guk (seas mustard soup) is a symbol of birthdays for Koreans. By custom, it is the first meal mothers eat after giving birth, so it has become a food representing birth. Even those who dislike Miyeok-guk usually eat it on their birthdays.
The First Meal after Childbirth
: It is said that when a baby whale is born, Miyeok (sea mustard) becomes scarce in the ocean, because the mother whale eat up all the seaweed in order to recover her strength. In Korea, there is a custom of serving mothers Miyeokguk and rice as their first meal after childbirth. This soup, which is known as 'Cheot-gukbap' (the first soup), is clear and seasoned only with soy sauce and sesame oil, as opposed to ordinary Miyeokguk which connotations beef. When buying dried Miyeok to make soup for a new motor, one should choose wide and uncut sheets of Miyeok and not quibble over the price. Due to a popular belief that folding and cutting the long sheets can cause a difficult labor, Miyeok for postpartum recovery is customarily carried without folding and is found with a straw rope.
A Popular Dish at the Jjimjil-bang
: Rich in calcium and iodine, Miyeok helps the womb contract and stimulates the production of new blood cells. Even since this benefit was first proven scientifically, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, a well-known Los Angeles hospital, has started to offer Miyeokguk as a post-partum meal. At the hospital, the soup has become popular not only among women recovering from delivery, but also with breastfeeding mothers and other patients. Miyeokguk is also believed to promote a more radiant appearance. The soup can be found in nearly every Jjimjibang (Korean-style spa/sauna).
A Taboo on Exam Days
: When someone says "I ate Miyeokguk,' it can be translated in two ways. One is 'it was my birthday,' and the other is 'I failed an exam.' Miyeokguk can represent failure because the seaweed's slipperiness brings to mind 'slipping up' and failing an exam.
Ingredients & Quantity
20g dried brown seaweed, 100g beef (shank), 13g (1 tbsp) sesame oil, 1.6 kg (8 cups) water, 6g (1 tsp) clear soy sauce, 8g (2 tsp) salt
seasoning sauce: 3g (1/2 tsp) clear soy sauce, 2.8g (1/2 tsp) minced garlic, 0.1 g ground black pepper
1. Soak dried brown seaweed in water for 30min. remove foreign elements such as sands if exist. Squeeze the water out and cut it into 4cm-long (260g)
2. Clean blood of beef with cotton cloths, cut it into 2.5cm- square and 0.2cm- thick, season with seasoning sauce
1. Preheat the pot and oil with sesame oil, stir-fry the beef for 2min. on medium heat. Add soaked brown seaweed, fry them for another 3min.
2. Add water into the pot, boil it for 5 min. on high heat. When it boils, lower the heat to medium, continue to boil for 20min. When the soup soaked tastefully, season with clear soy sauce and salt, bring it to a boil.
A version of this article by 'Korean Food Foundation' Great Food, Great Stories from Korea, and 'Hollym' The Beauty of Korean Food: With 100 Best-Loved Recipes.
- The Beauty of Korean Food: with 100 Best-Loved Recipes/ Hollym & Great Food, Great Stories from Korea/ Korean Food Foundation - P.C. andos.co.kr - P.C. blog.joins.com - P.C. mjroad.com/52 - P.C. sungsil.tistory.com - P.C. www.62life.com - P.C. korean.visitkorea.or.kr