This is a meatless version of the classic miyeok-guk soup with beef. It is a light and cleansing soup made with Korean seaweed, silken tofu, and enoki mushrooms, cooked in a delicate dashi broth. Ready in 20 minutes from start to finish.
What is Korean Seaweed Soup?
Korean seaweed soup (Miyeok-Guk 미역국) is a traditional Korean soup typically made with rehydrated seaweed (miyeok: aka brown seaweed) and proteins like beef brisket or seafood like mussels, shrimp or abalone.
It’s known colloquially as Korean birthday soup – because this seaweed soup is commonly served to Korean mothers after giving birth. It is thought that this soup has the perfect balance of nutrients to help a new mother recuperate after labor.
And, throughout the years, it has become a celebratory soup that people eat on their birthdays as an acknowledgment of another year of life.
However, it doesn’t need to be your birthday to indulge in this delicious Korean soup. And I set out to create a meatless version of the classic miyuk guk you can enjoy anytime you want a little comforting, delicious Korean soup in your life.
Miyeok Guk Ingredients
Scroll all the way down for the full recipe.
- Dried Seaweed: The particular seaweed you’ll want to track down for this Korean soup is called miyeok (미역) – however it is more widely known in the West as sea mustard – or by it’s Japanese name: wakame. So what is wakame? Wakame is an edible seaweed (or kelp) with a strong marine flavor and a hint of sweetness. You’ll rehydrate wakame before using it (more on this step in a sec).
- Tofu: I’m using silken tofu for this soup instead of the traditional beef or seafood. However, you can use the bean curd of your choice. I tried it once with medium-firm tofu, and it was delicious as well.
- Enoki Mushrooms: Enoki mushrooms are long, thin white mushrooms with slim stems and small caps. They grow in clusters and, once cooked, take on a pliant firmness. Learn more about cooking with enoki mushrooms here.
- Dashi Broth: Think of dashi as ‘sea stock.’ You can use prepackaged dashi powder (much like bouillon) – or make your own dashi from scratch. The homemade stuff is delicious, but obviously a bit more time consuming than using the powdered granules. It’s fairly easy to track down the powdered stock at most Asian grocery stores – or grab dashi on Amazon here.
- Minced Garlic Cloves: Just a tiny bit of minced garlic imparts a sharp earthiness to the overall flavor profile.
- Soy Sauce: 1 tbsp of soy sauce adds another layer of umami to this Korean seaweed soup recipe.
- Fish Sauce: This is the table salt of Asia. It’s funky, savory and absolutely perfect. Learn more about fish sauce here.
- Sesame Oil: You’ll only need 1 tsp of this toasty oil. A little goes a long way!
How to Make Korean Seaweed Soup
- Gather all of your cooking tools and ingredients. You’ll only need about 15 minutes of prep time – and can do all your prep as the seaweed rehydrates.
- Place your dried seaweed in a bowl with water and let it rehydrate until soft. This should take 10-15 mins.
- Once the soaking is complete, drain the seaweed, gently wring it out and chop into bite-size pieces. Set it aside.
- In the meantime, cut the drained tofu into bite size squares and set aside as well.
- Next, rinse your enoki mushrooms under cold water and cut the stems off. The stems on enoki mushrooms are harder and discolored from the pliant parts near the tip, so you’ll have no trouble knowing where to cut. Separate the mushroom strands by gently pulling them apart. Set your mushrooms aside.
- Then add the dashi broth, garlic, soy sauce and fish sauce to a medium sized pot and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add your seaweed, tofu and enoki mushrooms and stir well. Cook for another 5 minutes total time.
- Finally, turn the heat off, stir in the sesame oil and serve immediately.
Korean Seaweed Soup Flavor
The combination of dashi, wakame and fish sauce all create a flavor profile that is saline and mineral like the sea – but soft and nuanced enough that it doesn’t simply taste salty.
There’s a verdant freshness that also dances around the edges.
Texturally, you’ll get a pliant crunch from both the enoki mushrooms and the seaweed. And the silken tofu provides heft, substance and softness.
All of this to say – this is one of my favorite Korean soups. And it’s rare to get this amount of deep and savory flavor from a soup that is ready in 20 minutes from start to finish.
What to Serve With Korean Seaweed Soup
My favorite side dish to eat with miyeok guk is a simple bowl of perfectly cooked short grain rice. The soup brings the flavor – and the rice is a comforting counterpoint.
However, you could make a proper Korean meal of it – and serve this seaweed soup recipe alongside these reader favorites:
- Vegetarian Kimbap (Gimbap)
- Korean Steamed Egg (Gyeran Jjim)
- Kimchi Tofu Mandu (Korean Dumplings)
- Scallion Pancake (Pajeon)
- Tteokbokki (Dukbokki)
What’s your favorite way to eat Korean birthday soup? Tell me about your favorites in the comments section below!
How to Store Leftovers
You can store any unused portions of this Korean seaweed soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
If you think you’ll need it longer down the road, you can freeze it (properly covered) for up to 3 months. However be sure to freeze in single serving portions. You should never thaw, reheat and re-freeze a second time.
Other Delicious and Easy Korean Soup Recipes
Did you like this Korean seaweed soup recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Korean Seaweed Soup (Tofu Miyeok-Guk)
A light and cleansing soup made with Korean seaweed, silken tofu, and enoki mushrooms, cooked in a delicate dashi broth.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Korean
- Diet: Low Calorie
- 20g dried seaweed (miyeok)
- 1 block silken tofu, or medium firm tofu, drained
- 1/2 package enoki mushrooms,
- 4 cups dashi broth
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Place the seaweed in water and let it rehydrate for 10 to 15 minutes, until it’s soft.
- Drain the seaweed and chop into bite size pieces. Set aside.
- Cut the tofu into bite size squares and set aside.
- Rinse the enoki mushrooms under cold water and cut the stems off – the part that’s harder and discolored. Separate the mushrooms by gently pulling at the strands and set aside.
- Add the dashi broth, garlic, soy sauce and fish sauce to a medium size pot and bring to a boil.
- Add the seaweed, tofu and enoki mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat off, stir in the sesame oil and serve.
Store the seaweed soup in an airtight storage container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 126
- Sugar: 0.8g
- Sodium: 931.7mg
- Fat: 6.5g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 3.5g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 4g
- Fiber: 1.1g
- Protein: 12.7g
- Cholesterol: 0mg