Seaweed soup with beef

Soegogi miyeokguk 쇠고기 미역국

Miyeokguk is a soup made of edible seaweed and is traditionally eaten on birthdays or after giving birth, although you can eat anytime you like. Miyeok is rich in iodine, iron, and calcium and many people eat it to lower their cholesterol. This version of the soup is made with beef, which is the most popular type.

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. Koreans all believe it’s good, healthy food, which is why Korean mothers who give birth will eat miyeokguk 3 meals a day for a month to recover fast and regain their strength and nutrients. Mom should stay home and look after her new born baby and her own health, and lay down on the traditional Korean heated floor (ondol) to sweat out the bad stuff and eat healthy miyeokguk.


This is why Koreans will have a bowl of miyeokguk for breakfast on their birthday, all their lives. They think about their mom to thank her for bringing them into this world. Korean spas serve miyeokguk in their cafeterias because the heated floors of the spa reminds people of the healthy, resting, relaxing time of recovering from childbirth at home.

When I lived in Korea, I had a friend named 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, our everyday healthy, delicious food. 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!


Serves 2 to 3

  • ½ ounce (16 grams) dried miyeok, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
  • 1 pound beef brisket or skirt steak, cut into thin and small pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fish sauce (or salt and soy sauce to your taste)
  • 2 teaspoon toasted toasted sesame oil


soaking miyeok


  1. Rinse and drain the miyeok. Squeeze out excess water. Cut a few times into bite-size pieces.Korean seaweed-soaked
  2. Transfer the miyeok to a large and heavy pot. Add 8 cups of water. Cover and bring it to a boil for about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium. Add the beef, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.seaweed soup
  4. Stir in garlic and fish sauce. Cook another 10 minutes, or until the beef is tender and the broth is savory.Korean birthday soup
  5. Stir-in the sesame oil. Ladle into bowls and serve. The soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.Korean seaweed soup (birthday soup)


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  1. sunyul joined 10/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!
    My sister introduced me to your website, and I LOVE IT!
    I’m not so confident when cooking Korean food, so the videos help tons.
    I made this miyukgook for my family, including my 1year old son who LOVED it. He ate it all up!
    Quick question: Can you freeze miyukgook?

    Thanks so much!

  2. jeanster Singapore joined 8/10 & has 9 comments


    If I use anchovies as a substitute for beef, when do I add I them in? Will the steps remain the same as one shown in the video?

  3. ester joined 9/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi!

    I made this today but unfortunately it was a fail (I tried to make it vegetarian). The soup stock is better when it’s made with beef or dried fish. I used soy sauce and a little salt for my soup instead of fish sauce and it was a lot less tasty than my mother’ s soup.

    How did people in Korea make the stock when there was no meat in the house?

  4. samphonic Rockville, MD USA joined 9/10 & has 1 comment

    I have eaten at dozens of Korean restaurants and fell in love with a restaurant in Gaithersburg, MD called Ichiban that serves Japanese and Korean foods. They have a buffet lunch where they serve many delicious Korean treats including miyuk muchim — and I mention it because they have a twist in the recipe that I haven’t seen mentioned. Instead of the cucumber I saw mentioned in a comment above or sesame seeds that Maangchi your recipe included, they use julienned Korean radish — long pieces and enough that you get some radish in every bite. The radish is soft so it seems it may have marinated in the dressing overnight or maybe it is marinated by itself and then added to the miyuk muchim later. I recommend trying it. And get this, my two year old daughter can’t get enough of it!

  5. Just_Tina Washington DC Metro Area joined 7/10 & has 8 comments

    Hi, maangchi!

    I totally LOVE this soup! Super YUMMMMM. Do you know what perilla oil is? How do you use it and can you use it to make seaweed soup? Also, it seems that this soup varies from region to region in Korea. Do you know of other ways in which this soup is made? I don’t mind experimenting; I just LOVE this soup! Jeju island has its own way making it. Does anyone else out there have other ideas? thanxxx!

    p.s. i made duk bok kie (w/fish cake) two nights ago. WOWEEEE! jaw-dropping DELISH.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

      Do you mean sesame seeds oil?

      Yes, there are 2 versions of miyeokguk recipe that I know.
      The other version is more milky and thick.

      Heat up a pot and add some sesame oil and garlic, then add soaked and chopped sea plant and beef. Sautee it for a minute and add water. The rest of the recipe is the same.

      I prefer clear soup that’s why I posted this version.

      • Just_Tina Washington DC Metro Area joined 7/10 & has 8 comments

        thanks, maangchi. i’m definitely trying this method on my next go at seaweed soup.

        as to perilla oil, a statement was made that this oil was used to saute the seaweed and garlic–no beef was used in the recipe just mussels. i imagine perilla oil comes from the seed. i’m just trying to figure out what it is. thanks!!!!!

  6. joyeous lee lee north hollywood joined 6/10 & has 9 comments

    i made this soup couple days ago and it turned out PERFECT, i loved it and my son loved it too and his 14 mos old

  7. stephen293 joined 7/10 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi, thank you so much for this site. I have just recently decided to make Korean food as I am away from my parents. I have heard the use of gook ganjang. Is this essential? Is it a method you would personally recommend or have used? Your opinion would be greatly appreciated! :) Awesome site btw!

  8. celesh joined 7/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi, I’m trying to follow this recipe, but for some reason it’s not coming up so good.
    I replaced the fish sauce with soy sauce. but for some reason when i try it i can taste mostly garlic and also the beef smell is too strong. the soup doesnt taste like miok for some reason..
    regarding the garlic, could it be that i used garlic puree instead of fresh garlic? i got the puree at the korean market…

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

      “I replaced the fish sauce with soy sauce..but..i can taste mostly garlic and also the beef smell is too strong.”
      Did you use dark soy sauce? If so, I am sure it won’t be tasty. Use good quality and fresh beef. pureed garlic sounds ok though.

  9. Seira86 joined 5/10 & has 1 comment

    Hello!!! ^^

    I really really would like to make miyuguk because I’m pregnant and heard it has many benefits for pregnant women. Plus I really crave Korean food!!!

    But your story about miyuguk really surprised me!!!! I think I know sister Jane Anne too!!!!! I met her in Korea in 2007. My Aunt is a nun and she got in touch with sister Jane Anne and I had dinner at the convent with them once and went to Outback! hehe She is a really vivacious woman and she speaks Korean just like a Korean!!! She even surprised me more and schooled Koreans on some history in Korea! She is in Chicago now because my parents occasionally e-mail her from time to time.

    This is a picture that I took of her in 2007. I’m pretty sure it is the same nun. =)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

      Thank you very much for posting the photo. But she is not the sister that I know. What a coincidence! Both of them seem to live in Chicago. Maybe if you ask sister Ann, she may know sister Jeanne!

  10. Blessed Singapore joined 4/10 & has 18 comments

    I’ve wanted to know how to boil your national birthday soup after watching it so many times in the Korean shows.
    Now finally, i can try your authentic recipes. But I am allergic to seafood and beef, can I use pork or chicken? Which part of the pork or chicken should I use?

    Thank you.

  11. coffeequeen joined 4/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    I am watching a lot of Korean drama movies, and always saw their friend or family member made them Seaplant soup on their B-day. It looks so delicious, so I was searching for the recipe very glad to come across your web site. It looks very easy to make, I will try to go to the super market this weekend and try it at home. Hopefully, it will turn out as good as yours and thanks for sharing. :)

  12. sung malaysia joined 3/10 & has 1 comment

    Can I substitute anchovies instead of beef for the soup? I don’t eat beef

  13. Lau Guadalajara, España joined 2/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!
    I would like to congratulate you for your blog! Is really great! I love all your recipes, all look delicious! I’m very clumsy in the kitchen, you’re my idol!^^
    I have a question, I hope that you can help me :)
    the first time I went to lunch at Korean restaurant I ate a soup like this (I’m sure it was this soup), but I don’t know if there are others soups similars. First I thought it was similar to Miso soup(I don’t like it U.U), but the taste was totally different!(really delicious^^.I want to know if this soup is often used as an accompaniment to other foods in Korea (same in that restaurant).

    Thank you very much!^^

  14. ze125 libya joined 1/10 & has 8 comments

    hi maangchi love your web site but i was wondering can i use the kim (seaweed paper) like the 1 you used in the kimbap??

  15. Hi! I’d like to know if I can use tofu and olive oil instead of meat and sesame oil in the soup? Do you think mushrooms could be used instead of meat aswell? And can I keep the leftovers in the fridge? Thanks~

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,049 comments

      I never use tofu and olive oil in this miyeokguk recipe. When I don’t use meat, I usually use seafood such as shrimp, mussels, or clams. The seafood or meat makes delicious stock.
      Yes, you can keep the leftover soup in the fridge up to 2 days.

      • Ok, Thanks! I’ll have to buy some sesame oil since I’ve never used it before. And I think I’ll use shrimp since I have some left over. Should I cut the shrimp up, or leave them whole?

        You seem like a really nice person.

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