Miyeokguk is made of seaplant and is traditionally eaten on birthdays or after giving birth, although you can eat anytime you like. Miyeok is rich in iodine and calcium and many people eat it to lower their cholesterol.
Whenever I meet my mother, she recommends I eat more miyeok and shows me how much she enjoys it by making all kinds of soups and salads with it. She also makes a miyeok wrap with rice and sauce and pops it into her mouth. We all believe it’s good, healthy food.
I used to have a stereotype about people from another culture that they wouldn’t like miyeokguk. When I lived in Korea, I had a friend name Jeanne, an American nun who had been living in Korea for more than 35 years. She always told me how she loved Korea and how it was her adopted hometown! She loved all kinds of Korean traditional food. Of course she could speak Korean just like a Korean.
She said: “There’s one Korean food that I don’t like.”
I asked: “What is it?”
She said: “Miyeokguk.”
I couldn’t help laughing because I expected some kind of weird korean food, not miyeokguk. I was curious about why she didn’t like it. She answered: “It’s slippery in my mouth, ooh, I don’t like the texture.” I laughed again when I heard this.
I hope she’s doing well now. She must be living in somewhere in Chicago. I used to tease her: “Miss Jeanne, would you sit over here?” when we met at the coffee shop. I always wanted her to sit next to me!
Seaplant soup (miyeokguk):
Ingredients (for 4-6 servings):
- 4 cups of soaked miyeok (1 cup of dried seaplant)
- 16 cups of water
- 4 to 5 tbs of fish sauce
- 200 grams of beef brisket
- 1 tbs of minced garlic
- sesame oil
- Soak 1 cup of dried miyeok in a big bowl for at least 30 minutes. Drain and cut into bite sized pieces.
- Put the soaked miyeok (about 4 cups’ worth) into a big pot and add 16 cups of water. Boil over high heat for 20 minutes. Add more water if the soup gets too thick.
- Cut the beef brisket into bite size pieces. Add the beef and garlic to the pot and boil for another 20 to 25 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the fish sauce and drizzle a few drops of sesame oil on top before serving.
- Serve with rice, if you have it. Put a few spoonfuls of rice (or the whole bowl) into the soup and eat.
Miyeokguk (beef is replaced with mussels)
Seaplant salad (Miyeokmuchim)
- 7 cups of soaked miyeok (about 2 cups of dried seaplant)
- 6 tbs of soy sauce (more or less depending on your taste)
- 1 tbs of sugar
- 1 tbs of minced garlic
- chopped green onion
- 4 or 5 tbs of vinegar
- sesame seeds
- Soak 2 cups of miyeok in a bowl for at least 30 minutes. Drain.
- Add the miyeok to a pot of boiling water. Stir with a spoon for 30 seconds .
- Take out the miyeok and rinse in cold water. Gently squeeze the miyeok to get rid of any excess water.
- In a big bowl, put the miyeok and add the soy sauce, vinegar, minced garlic, sugar, and chopped green onion. Mix it up by hand.
- Sprinkle some sesame seeds on the top and serve cold.