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Recipe: Korean Seaweed Soup (Birthday Soup)

Korean Seaweed Soup (Miyeok-Guk 미역국) - Birthday Soup Recipe

This healthy seaweed Soup (Miyeok-Guk 미역국) is served to Korean women with every meal, during the weeks after they have given birth, and the soup is believed to have a wide range of nutritional benefits. 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.

Recipe: Korean Seaweed Soup (birthday soup)

Recipe by Ella @cookiestorykim Course: SoupCuisine: Korean


servings (as a side/appetizer)
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  • 1/2 ounce 1/2 (16g) dried miyeok seaweed

  • 1/2 pound 1/2 (230g) beef brisket or other cuts of beef, used for stews.

  • 7 cups 7 (16.5dL) water

  • 1 tbsp 1 Korean toasted sesame oil

  • A pinch of salt


  • Soak the dried seaweed in a bowl with plenty of water according to the instructions on the package. It would typically take 20-30 minutes to fully rehydrate the seaweed. Wash the seaweed in clean water, and if you are using large sheets of seaweed, you may have to cut it in smaller, bite-sized pieces. The seaweed is now ready to be added to the soup.
  • Wash and rinse the beef under running water and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
  • Find a pot, which is big enough for cooking the soup (larger than 3-4 Liters). Heat the sesame oil and stir-fry the beef in the pot at medium-high heat until the surface is cooked. It does not take longer than a minute or two.
  • Add the rehydrated seaweed and stir-fry together with the beef for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add water and bring to a boil. Skim off any residues from the meat.
  • Turn down the heat, and let the soup simmer on the stove at low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the color of the soup is pale green and the seaweed is soft.
  • Season with salt.



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