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Recipe: Traditional Korean Birthday Soup


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Miyuk Guk is Korean seaweed soup. “Miyuk” refers to wakame, a type of seaweed abundant along the long Korean coastline. This warming and delicious comfort food is made with fragrant garlic, seaweed, and either fish broth with shellfish or beef broth with sliced beef. I love the story behind this celebratory Korean “birthday soup” recipe, which everyone eats not only on his or her birthday, but also year-round. Its association with birthdays in particular stems from the ritual of feeding Miyuk Guk to women who have just given birth. Their traditional wisdom knew that the soup gave the women strength and restoration from the nutrient dense broth, seaweed, and beef or seafood.

  • Type of dish: Side Dish, Soup
  • Equipment: Soup pot
  • Servings: Makes 2 to 3 servings


  • 1/4 cup dried wakame (0.3 ounces) – Whole Foods generally carries a good selection of dried seaweed, and you can also try finding it at your local natural foods store or an Asian market
  • 3 cups beef bone broth
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TB sesame oil
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced


  1. Soak 1/4 cup dried wakame in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse 2 or 3 times, and drain again. Squeeze all the water out of the seaweed. At this point we had 1 cup of soaked wakame. Coarsely chop the wakame into bite sized pieces.
  2. Heat the broth over medium low heat. Add the seaweed and the garlic and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes to infuse the broth with the garlic flavor.
  3. Stir in the sesame oil and fish sauce.
  4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the green onions.


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Chris Kresser in kitchen
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  1. Hi there,

    What would be a good alternative to Wakame?

    Concerned about its possible contamination.


  2. I love wakame and make something like this soup pretty much once a week…

    I found a large (2.2 lb) package of wakame on amazon and once you consider how much the wakame GROWS…it’s really an amazing good deal…inexpensive and nutritious (and easy) veggies that will last on the shelf for many months!!

    see: http://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Cove-Pacific-Seaweed-35-Ounce/dp/B001216DLG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1344876123&sr=8-1&keywords=Emerald+Cove+Silver+Grade+Ready-to-Use+Pacific+Wakame+%28Dried+Seaweed%29%2C+35-Ounce+Bag