Meeyukgook | Korean Birthday Soup | 미역국

Meeyukgook17Meeyukgook is always served on a birthday; soup is a must as part of a birthday meal. This tradition may have begun as a symbolic rememberance of the day we were born.
 
It is customary to serve Meeyukgook when a woman gives birth. She’s served Meeyukgook from the day of the child-birth until weeks thereafter. I often wondered if this is the reason why we have Meeyukgook on our birthdays; to celebrate by recreating the day we were born. Years past, beef was too expensive and was not accessible for majority of the population. Seaweed on the other hand was abundant and affordable for most people. Seaweed provided nutrients needed to fortify the bones and replenish blood loss during child-birth with it’s high content in calcium and iron.


Old wive’s tale we must know… One occasion Meeyukguk should not be served is on a day of an important exam. The tale goes because seaweed is slippery, the test will “slip away” from the test taker and he/she will fail the test. Instead, anything “sticky”, such as sweet rice cake is served. Of course there’s no statistics to prove this one way or another but ’til this day, this rule is rigidly followed in a traditional Korean household.

 

Ingredients

1/2 oz Meeyuk (dried seaweed)
1/4 pound beef, beef brisket preferred
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon gukganjang – Korean soup soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
5 cups water or Basic Dashi
green onions for garnish, optional
kosher salt to taste

Beef Marinade:
1 teaspoon soup soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped green onions
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
pinch freshly ground black pepper

No Beef Option:
Omit the beef. Use Basic Dashi in place of water.

Meeyukgook14Gukganjang; Korean Soup Soy Sauce can be found in the soy sauce section in a Korean market. It has a different taste than a regular soy sauce; thinner and less sweet. When flavoring soups, Gugkganjang is almost always used. There are many brands and taste vary. I try to find those that are naturally brewed and have the least amount of sodium and additives.

 
 

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In a large bowl, put the dried seaweed and fill it with water.

 
 

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Set aside at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

 
 

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After the dried seaweed is rehydrated, rinse several times in water, each time with clean water. Rinse until there’s no longer sand settling in the bottom of the bowl.

 
 

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Drain in a colander.

 
 

Gather in a bunch, slice in 3 inch sections. Set aside.

 
 

Marinade

In a small bowl, combine the beef marinade ingredients. Julienne the beef and season with the meat marinade. Set aside.

 
 

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Heat a pot. When the pot is hot, add the sesame seed oil.

 
 

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Cook the beef, stirring constantly, breaking each pieces apart.

 
 

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Cook until most of the pieces are cooked, but not completely.

 
 

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Add the seaweed and sauté quickly.

 
 

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Add the garlic, green onions and gukganjang. Cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minutes.

 
 

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Add the water or Basic Dashi. Bring to a boil on high heat. Using a large spoon or a fine sieve, remove the foam rising to the top.

I like to use Basic Dashi instead of water because it adds a deeper flavor to the broth.

 
 

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Cover and lower the heat to low to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.

 
 

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Turn up the heat to high. Taste and season with kosher salt if necessary. Add freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil.

 
 

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Ladle onto a soup bowl. Garnish with green onions if desired. Serve hot.

 
 

Related Recipe

 
 

Korean Birthday Soup | Meeyukgook
 
Makes: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ oz Meeyuk (dried seaweed)
  • ¼ pound beef, beef brisket preferred
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon gukganjang - Korean soup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
  • 5 cups water
  • green onions for garnish, optional
  • kosher salt
Beef Marinade
  • 1 teaspoon soup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Soak the dried seaweed in water for about 20 minutes.
  2. After the dried seaweed is rehydrated, rinse several times in water, each time with clean water. Rinse until there's no longer sand settling in the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Drain in a colander.
  4. Gather in a bunch, slice in 3 inch sections. Set aside.
  5. If using beef, julienne the beef and season with the meat marinade. Set aside.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the beef marinade ingredients. Julienne the beef and season with the meat marinade. Set aside.
  7. Heat a pot. When the pot is hot, add the oil.
  8. Cook the beef, stirring constantly, breaking each pieces apart. Cook until most of the pieces are cooked, but not completely.
  9. Add the seaweed and sauté quickly.
  10. Add the garlic, green onions and gukganjang. Cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minutes.
  11. Add the water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Using a large spoon or a fine sieve, remove the foam rising to the top.
  12. Lower the heat to low to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  13. Turn up the heat to high. Taste and season with kosher salt if necessary. Add freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil.
  14. Ladle onto a soup bowl. Garnish with green onions if desired. Serve hot.
Notes
If you don't want to use beef, omit the beef. In lieu of water, use the Basic Dashi. How-To Make Basic Dash available on NotJustRice.com