Seaweed Soup with Tuna

Seaweed Soup with TunaOne rainy morning of spring, 1974…

Mrs. Jeon, the midwife, rushed into our house in the crack of dawn.
My mother was having a labor; she was expecting her 5th child. My aunt and the neighborhood ladies came soon after to help out. Hours later she gave a birth to a chubby baby boy.
She was 41 years old.

If you are familiar with Korean (or far-east Asian) culture, delivering a son to the family you are married to was like a mandatory responsibility to any woman in olden days, especially when your husband is the first born. My father was second son in his family but his older brother died during Korean war without having any children, therefore he took the responsibility of continuing the family linage.

You can imagine the pressure my mother felt. She had delivered only daughters that far, and there were 4 of them.

I remember seeing my father’s face that day. He was so happy that he ran out to the street and danced with a joy under the pouring rain. He came back home with a several fresh fishes on his hand and asked my aunt to cook seaweed soup with those for his wife.

My mother ate the soup and shed her tears over. I was 8 years old. I thought she was crying because the childbirth hurts. But I understood her tears had a different meaning as I grew older.

Seaweed soup is an all-Korean birthday soup.
When a woman gives birth, she has to eat the seaweed soup everyday for at least one month.
And when the baby grows to be a child old enough to eat the soup, he/she eats the seaweed soup on their birthdays every year until they die of old age.
Unfortunately this tradition is slowly being replaced by dinning out in the restaurants and celebrate with bakery made western birthday cakes with fancy candles. This seaweed birthday soup is becoming more to be a food of the past.

In my household I do both. Yes, We eat the seaweed soup to continue our Korean heritage and then, indulge ourselves to a sweet cake slobbered with thick frosting to celebrate our American side of life.


dried seaweed called “Mi-yeok”


Seaweed offers amazing nutrition to women’s body, especially to those who nurse babies. With lots of vitamins, minerals, and folic acid,  seaweed is in fact good for everyone. While Seoul-ians use beef in this traditional soup, we use fish in the south.
Rock fish, flounder, and red snapper are the popular kinds, but they are hard to get them as fresh and whole. So I am going to cheat and use canned tuna instead.
It is quite simple and easy to make, as I always says..,  :)
This happens to be my kid’s favorite Korean soup, and they prefer this soup with tuna over beef.

Only a few ingredients as you can see.


Soak a handful of seaweed in the cold water for 10 minutes,


and Voila! They triple in volume.  Rinse and squeeze out the excess water.

FYI, Save a few and mix with a little oatmeal, grind them to make into paste, then spread on your face. You can eat if you want…
You will have an immediate radiant skin.
I never thought I would unveil a beauty secret on my cooking blog…

Anyway, let’s move on.


You will want to cut them a few times.


Onion? Just a little bit. It will counter-balance the fish taste of tuna quite nicely.


This is fish bouillon. I used to find them quite easily in many international grocery stores but it gets harder and harder these days. Can’t find it? Substitute with chicken stock diluted with some water. But it tastes much better with fish stock though…


Open your canned tuna and drain its liquid.

Important: It has to be SOLID WHITE TUNA in WATER. Not one of those scrappy *chunky tuna*, which I never see any chunky pieces in.
Save those for tuna sandwich on your lazy day.
Costco’s Kirkland brand carries the best solid white tuna. Oh, I miss Costco…


Drizzle a little oil in a heated soup pot.


Saute your onion for 2 minutes.


Add your seaweed and continue to saute for 1 minute.


Add water and drop your bomb, I mean the fish cube.


Let them boil first…


Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes.


When your seaweed is nice and tender to the texture (I mean slightly slimy…), add some chopped garlic.
Don’t over-simmer. They will get too slimy, unless you prefer that kind of texture…


Add the tuna breaking them into big chunks. Cook for about 3-4 minutes.


Season with Koran soy sauce for soup. Taste! You might need more.


Yes! the soup is ready to go.
If you want, you can add a drop of sesame oil at the end.


Ladle into a nice soup bowl and serve hot with some rice.
Kimchi is a MUST side dish to eat with! You already knew that, right?


My mother had this soup when she brought me to this world.

I had this soup when I gave a birth to my little girl.

… And I guarantee that,

I will cook this soup when my little girl grow up to bring another new life into this world someday.

And I will give her a big fat hug that day.


Seaweed Soup with Tuna
Seaweed Soup with Tuna

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4


  • 8 oz (22g) Korean dried seaweed, mi-yeok
  • 2 teaspoon grape seed or canola oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 cup water
  • 1 fish bouillon cube *
  • 1 can (7 oz) solid white Albacore tuna, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoon Korean soy sauce for soup to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, optional
  • * substitution : Mix 4 cups chicken stock with 2 cups of water


  1. Soak dried seaweed in water for 10 minutes until it gets triple in volume.
  2. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat, saute onion for 2 minutes. Add the seaweed and continue to saute for 1 minute and add water and fish bouillon cube. Cover with a lid and bring to gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until the seaweed gets tender.
  3. Add the tuna and garlic, and heat through. Season with Korean soy sauce for soup .
  4. Drizzle sesame oil at last if you wish.




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  1. 2


    Oh this makes me miss my mom even more! I will have to travel over the mountain to Portland, Oregon…no dried seaweed or sauce on this side of the mountain!

  2. 3

    Swan says

    Mmm…I love seaweed soup and this looks really good :) Thanks, Holly for sharing another wonderful recipe with us!

  3. 4

    Lucy L says

    Can I use wakame? It is the same thing?
    thanks for also sharing the touching story about your mum, I hope your brother has gone on to have children too? :)

    • 5

      Holly says

      Lucy, you can use wakame.The texture will be slightly different. If your wakame is the kind that is already chopped, don’t simmer too long.

  4. 6

    doug says

    My wife’s Aunt had 5 daughters before she had a son. My wife can vividly remember seeing her being forced to get up and make dinner shortly after giving birth to a girl-literally crawling around the kitchen. Fortunately,those days are gone forever.

  5. 9


    Holly – I confess – never had miyeok guk with canned tuna. Sounds great! I must try. So you have 3 sisters. Must be nice. I don’t have any. I have 3 younger brothers. Great post!

  6. 11

    Renee says

    What a lovely story, and thanks for the recipe! I’ve been craving this soup for a while and had no idea it was so simple to make. Yum!

  7. 12


    I love learning about different traditions that families have. That’s really neat and good to know about the beauty secret! My Clean and Clear isn’t working too well these days, I think I might have to try this. :p

  8. 14

    Rachel says

    Hi Holly, interesting writing you’ve got there! Well done. Will definitely try out this seaweed & tuna soup. Oh by the way, I’ll be travelling to KL, do you need anything from Melbourne?

  9. 15


    Hi Holly! I love your website. I made a few dishes already. I featured you in my blog. :)
    I’m going to make this today but instead with chicken. I made your chicken salad yesterday, it was SOOO good! I’m going to use the chicken stock + chicken for my seaweed soup. :3 Your recipes are so easy and simple to follow! Hehe. 😀

  10. 16


    This looks delicious! My mother makes this soup when I am sick. I never had it with tuna and onions but I will try it out. Looks yummy.

  11. 17

    helen says


    wow! the way you make it would really cut down on the cooking time. can’t wait to try! thanks!

    just wondering, how do you know if the miyeok is good or not? there’s so many different kinds at the grocery store. is there a brand you like? thanks!

    • 18

      Holly says

      Hi Helen, Ottugi or Chungjoungwon brand is popular. I look for even thickness without too much tough stem in the middle of seaweed strands.

  12. 20


    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the
    eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me
    to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme?
    Exceptional work!

  13. 21


    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Regardless, just wanted to say superb blog!


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