Seaweed Soup (mi yeok guk – 미역국) – AKA: Birthday Soup

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Here is my first post of a soup. If you’re turning a year older in Korea, this is what you’ll be eating. It’s a simple beef broth soup, perfect for a cold day or a chilly night. This isn’t a soup you’re going to wow the socks of your American friends with. I don’t mean to undersell it at this point. This is one of my favorite soup. It’s the flavor of home. I just mean that if you’re giving it to a person who’s diet normally consists of hot dogs and hamburgers, they may find it too simple–too slimy. But, if you have a Korean friend and you want to surprise them with some comfort food, this is the way straight to their heart. The first time I had it, I wasn’t impressed to be honest. But now I’m addicted. The beef, the garlic, the sesame…it’s all there surrounding the superfood that is seaweed! Eat up. Drink up.

  • Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
  • Cooking Time:  30-45 minutes (including bringing to a boil)
  • Total Time: ~40-60 minutes
WARNING: For this recipe you may need a scale. It is is given in grams. For the seaweed, one-fifth of the package is a good estimate. For the rest, you can use this conversion. \
15g = 1 TBSP
Also…the pictures are all taken of a HUGE batch we made. 5 times as big as the recipe below.
  • 10g cut seaweed (ja reun mi yeok – 자른미역)
  • 50g (0.1 lbs) of stew beef (sui go gi – 쇠고기)
  • 6g (about 1/2 TBSP) minced garlic (ma neul – 마늘)
  • 6g (about 1/2 TBSP)  Sesame oil (cham ki ruem –  참기름)
  • 23g (about 2 TBSP)  soy sauce (gan jang – 간장)
  • 4 cups water (mul – 물)
  • *OPTIONAL 1/2 TBSP perilla seed powder (deul kkae ga ru – 들깨가루)
For more information about ingredients please see my ingredient page for detailed information
  • Soup (국)
  • Quick and Easy
  • Not Hot-At-All
  • Exotic Ingredients
  • On the cheap
  1. The seaweed should come in a container like this. Be sure to buy the cut kind. Otherwise you’ll end up with a bowl of never-ending seaweed
  2. Pour it out in a large bowl. It will expand to many times it’s size. They look small and cute now right?
  3. Fill the bowl most of the way full with water.
    seaweed 4
  4. Place the beef in a bowl and let it sit in the water for a few minutes (10-15) to let the blood soak out.
    seaweed 3
  5. Measure out your garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce
    seaweed 5seaweed 6seaweed 7
  6. There you have it. All the ingredients! Simple right. The rest of the process is just as simple. At this point the seaweed should be swollen up. Big. Juicy looking.
    seaweed 8
  7. Not to the draining. You need to drain out both your beef and your seaweed. It’s a lot bigger that the first time we saw it isn’t it?
    seaweed 9
  8. Heat up a large pot and start putting your ingredients in one by one. Start with the sesame oil, then add the garlic, then the meat, the the seaweed. Do NOT add the soy sauce quite yet.
    seaweed 10
  9. Fry all these ingredients for 3 minutes. The smell here is amazing! I love the smell of roasting sesame oil. Then add the 4 cups of water.
    seaweed 11
  10. Bring it all to a boil. A big big boil. Let it boil for 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce
    seaweed 12
  11. Let it boil for another 10 minutes or so. It wouldn’t hurt for it to boil longer. At this point you could be finished…or, if you have it (and you should have it…this is one of my favorite newly-found ingredients) add the perilla powder. This is “sesame’s cousin.” It’s tastes a bit like a earthy sesame seed, but in this case, it adds a bit of creaminess to the soup. We bought this in Korea and brought it on the plane (Shhh…don’t tell) because we couldn’t find it here. But then last month it started showing up in the stores. Perhaps you can find it.
    seaweed 12a
  12. Here’s what our pot looked like. Notice the creamy texture. There’ll be a bit of oil on top. That’s okay. Eat it. It’s delicious!
    seaweed 13
  13. Eat up! Soup is served. Taste it and add salt or soy sauce to taste. It’ll be a tad bit bland at this point, and that it natural. You can add some salt or just let it sit longer to let the flavors come out. This soup tastes better the next day for sure. Just cover it and leave it on the stove over night (turned off of course). The next morning for breakfast, turn on the stove, bring it to a boil, and you will have a better-flavor-infused seaweed soup. Like most seaweed foods, it’s a pain to microwave. So don’t. Throw it on the stove and warm it up. This soup also freezes well. This is why we made a huge batch, break it up into serving-sized containers, throw it in the freezer (softly of course^^) and when you want the soup, drop it back in the pan and bring it to a boil.
    seaweed 1 & 14

Do you have comments? Suggestions? Questions? Leave them below and I will answer right away!~