Seaweed soup (miyeokguk) is the traditional birthday soup in Korea. It’s a good thing that it is also one of the easiest and tastiest soups you can make! Canned tuna comes in very handy in making this Korean seaweed soup with tuna.
My son’s birthday is coming soon and I am making this seaweed soup with tuna again this year. In fact, I’ve made this easy, simple recipe for him every year since he was born. He loves it and asks for it every year.
Seaweed soup recipes come in many varieties. Perhaps beef seaweed soup is the most well known, even among Koreans. But in Korea’s southern provinces, people tend to use seafood. How appropriate!
Out of many seaweed soups that I tried (and I tried a lot), I love my mother’s seaweed soup the best. My mother always used fresh fish to make her soup and it was delectable.
Here, I adapted my mother’s recipe to use a can of tuna instead to make life more convenient. My son actually prefers this seaweed soup with tuna over the beef version and other varieties. I am totally with him.
Fun Korean Tradition (Seaweed Soup As A Birthday Soup): After a Korean mother delivers a child into the world, she eats seaweed soup as her basic meal (plus rice and banchan, or side dishes) everyday for a couple of months. It is believed that the nutritional benefit of seaweed produces good breast milk, which is the main resource to nourish her newborn. Korean people then eat seaweed soup on their birthday each year to respect and remember their mother’s love by which she ate mainly seaweed soup for 2-3 months after bearing a child.
Seaweed Choice For Seaweed Soup (MiYeokguk)
Choosing the right kind of seaweed is important.
In Korea, fresh seaweed is available to make seaweed soup which, of course, makes a silky smooth soup. However, dried seaweed can produce an equally great tasting soup. Look for thin twig-like dried seaweed. They are as light as a feather when dried.
The simple soup requires simple ingredients: seaweed, a fish stock cube, canned tuna, garlic, Korean soup soy sauce, and Korean tuna sauce.
How to make Korean Seaweed Soup with Canned Tuna
You will need to soak the dried seaweed in cold water for 10-15 minutes. As you can tell, they quickly re-hydrate themselves and quadruple in volume.
Note: Please keep in mind that some of the fish stock cubes have MSG as an ingredient.
If you can’t find fish stock cubes, use sea kelp stock to replace the cube and water in the recipe. Plain water won’t bring the right taste.
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Cook seaweed in hot oil for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
Add water and a fish stock cube. Bring it to boil, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes over low heat.
Season the soup with Korean soup soy sauce and Korean tuna sauce. If needed, add salt to suit your taste.
Lastly add minced garlic and stir. My mother always added her garlic at last in the soup. It brings the garlicky kick and I just love that. Remove the soup from heat, and serve with rice.
Any Kimchi will make a nice side dish to accompany with this seaweed soup. I usually serve mine with cabbage kimchi.
Leftover Storage and Reheating
As with many other soups, this seaweed soup also tastes even better on the next day. The seaweed will soak up the wonderful flavor from the broth and become softer. The same goes to the tuna.
Store the leftover seaweed soup in the fridge and it will last up to a week. You can also freeze the seaweed soup for a longer storage, about 3 months.
To reheat, you can use a microwave or gently simmer over the stove until hot.
More Seaweed Recipes
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Seaweed Soup With Tuna (Miyeokguk)
- Soak the dried seaweed in cold water for 10-15 minutes until it re-hydrates themselves and quadruple in volume. Drain the seaweed and cut into 2-inch long slices.
- Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Cook seaweed in hot oil for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
- Add 6 cups of water and a fish stock cube. Bring it to boil, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes over low heat.
- Season the soup with Korean soup soy sauce and Korean tuna sauce. If needed, add salt to suit your taste.
- Lastly add minced garlic; stir well and heat through. Remove the soup from heat. Serve with rice.