Miyeok Guk ( 미역국) is a traditional Korean soup made with edible seaweed. This nutritious and comforting soup is often enjoyed on birthdays and during postpartum recovery, as it is believed to promote good health. Miyeok-Guk has also become a soup you eat, when it is your birthday, and is thus commonly referred to as Korean Birthday Soup.
However, the soup is not just for new mothers and birthday celebrations. It is a rather common dish at Korean family meals, and you would also find the soup at many Korean restaurants.
Miyeok-Guk is typically made with a special kind of brown seaweed called miyeok (Undaria pinnatifida, English: sea mustard, Japanese: wakame) and beef, but on islands, and in the regions near the ocean, you will also find seaweed soup made with fish and seafood.
Recipe and notes by my Korean friend Ella @cookiestorykim from Masan, South Korea:
Miyeok seaweed: Can usually be found in Asian grocery stores in bigger cities. The seaweed will expand when absorbing water, so make sure you use enough water to rehydrate the seaweed.
Korean sesame oil (Cham-gi-reum 참기름): Toasted sesame oil is a very important ingredient in Korea, and the good ones can be rather pricey, but this is not the place to save. Western sesame oil is often made from un-toasted sesame seeds, so go for a Korean brand to make sure you get that nutty, roasted sesame, flavor, which we are after.
Beef: You can use beef brisket or other cuts of beef that you would usually use for stews and soups.