Korean Birthday Food (Set Meal) – Seaweed Soup, Rolled Egg Omelette & More!
In Korea, there is one particular birthday food that we eat every year. This is Miyeok-Guk (aka Seaweed Soup).
When I was young, I didn’t appreciate it. But my mom made it a point to make it every year. A few quick spoonfuls and I was out the door – fixated on whether my parents got me the gift I asked for.
Now – at an older age – this soup brings me back home. It brings back memories of my parent’s house and the warmness of their kitchen table.
For Koreans, this miyeok-guk is a gesture of “love”. Koreans from the older generation rarely say the words “I Love You” to their children (or even to teach other)...
Rather, it's expressed through actions or deeds – like cooking!
When your mother/father/sibling or partner makes miyeok-guk for you on your birthday, it’s their way of expressing … "You’re in my thoughts - I Love You!"
Today, I want to help YOU make this Korean Birthday Meal for a loved one.
Key Cooking Notes:
For a deep tasting miyeok-guk soup, we will do a few key things:
First, we will stir-fry the miyeok-guk with the beef for a good 4-5 minutes. This will create a base layer of flavor, while improving the texture of the seaweed.
Second, we won’t add in all the water at once. Instead we’ll add-in only half the water at first. This makes the seaweed boil quicker and pulls out more of its flavor.
Next – and the most important factor – is to give enough time for the seaweed soup to boil.
We often say in Korea that soups always tastes better the next morning. To achieve this "next morning" taste on your first boil, we will gently boil the seaweed for 30 minutes.
Note: If you want to bring out a deeper flavor, I recommend using anchovy-kelp broth instead of water.
This soup is fail-proof - feel free to season it to taste at the end - after the soup has had 5 minutes to rest! If it tastes slightly bland, add in a few more dashes of soy sauce (or pinches of salt).
Conversely, if it's slightly salty, add a few dashes of water until it matches your palate just right.Also, if the soup has reduced too much (little broth left), simply add in more water and give it a few more minutes to boil.
Now, that you got the soup - you’ll want to pair it with a banchan, or two.
The first is Gyeran Mari (Korean Rolled Omelette).
The key to making Gyeran Mari is using (a) low heat & (b) small amount of oil.
When making this rolled omelette, cook on a low heat.
The reason? The egg mixture needs some time to set with the larger piece – keep it low to prevent the egg from burning and turning brown.
Another great tip is wipe down the oil in the pan with a paper towel. This will remove excess oil - since we're cooking on low heat, the egg mixture begins to absorb it.
The second banchan is Myeongnan-Jeot (명란젓), also known as Salted Pollock Roe.
This is one of my favorite banchans to eat in the morning – and many Korean women especially love this banchan!
Let me explain how it’s made? Pollock roe are carefully washed with salt water, then salted in a bamboo basket. Then they are carefully packaged and sold at markets.
Since it is sold fresh, the roe doesn’t have a strong smell. Rather it’s eaten for its salty and crunchy “popping” texture. More of a rice topper than anything else.
To improve the taste, we will mix the myeongran with gochugaru, a generous amount of sesame oil and some finely minced green onions.
Sound delicious no?
Feel free to swap out any of the Korean Birthday Food banchans with your partner’s favorites - but the seaweed soup is a must!
And throw in a Chocopie for dessert! This is a classic Korean mooncake that you can find at any Korean market.
Alrighty neighbors, I hope you (and your loved one) have a blessed day! If you do end up making any of these Korean Birthday Food, tag us on IG - we LOVE seeing pictures of your dishes.
We love flipping through your pics in the morning!
(P.s. If you’re cooking alone, don’t get bored. Consider listening to our latest podcast episode while you cook!)
-Daniel (& Katie) Out 🕺 💃
Miyeok-Guk (Seaweed Soup)
- ½ cup Dried Seaweed (aka Miyeok/Wakame)
- 150-200 grams Beef Brisket
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
- 1 teaspoon (!) Kosher Salt (for stirfrying beef & seaweed)
- ½ Tablespoon Soup Soy Sauce (Regular Soy Sauce ok)
- 5 cups Water
- ½ teaspoon (!) Fish Sauce
- ½ Tablespoon Soup Soy Sauce (Regular Soy Sauce ok)
- 1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
Gyeran Mari (Rolled Egg)
- 5 Eggs
- 1 Big Pinch of Kosher Salt
- 1 Big Pinch of Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Diced Carrot
- 2 Tablespoons Diced Green Onion
Myeongran Jeot (Salted Pollock Roe)
- 1 Whole Salted Pollock Roe
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
- Few shakes Gochugaru
- Small handful Diced Green Onion
- Few shakes Sesame Seeds
Make Miyeok Guk (Seaweed Soup)
- Soak ½ cup of dried miyeok (seaweed) in cold water. After 30-40 minutes, the seaweed should have grown in size. Drain the seaweed through a sieve. Then use your hands and squeeze the water out of the seaweed. Then grab a pair of kitchen scissors and chop the seaweed into bite-sized pieces.
- Use a knife and cut a piece of beef brisket (~150 grams) into small bite-sized pieces. Place the small beef pieces between a few paper towels and pat it down - this is to get rid of any excess blood or liquid (which makes for a cleaner broth). Set it aside.
- Place 1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil into a wok or pot. Turn on medium-heat. Once the oil is hot, add the beef pieces in. Then add in the seaweed. Add in the Kosher Salt (1 teaspoon!) and Soy Sauce (½ Tablespoon). Stir-fry it around for 3-5 minutes - this process brings out a deep flavor from the seaweed. (Note: If the pieces start to stick to the pot and you see the seaweed pieces "melt on" to the sides - you've been stir-frying for too long - immediately move onto next step)
- Then add 2.5 cups of water. Once it comes to boil, let it boil away for a few minutes.
- Afterwards, place in remaining 2.5 additional cups of water.
- Then add in Fish Sauce (½ teaspoon!) & Soy Sauce (½ Tablespoon). Then some minced garlic (1 Tablespoon).
- Then place a lid on - and let it gently simmer for 30 minutes on LOW heat!
- After 30 minutes, turn off the heat. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes - so the flavors can come back together. Then sample soup - it should be spot on! But If it tastes slightly bland, add-in a splash more of soy sauce OR a sprinkle of kosher salt. Conversly, if it tastes slightly too salty, add-in a splash of water. Then let it cook for a few minutes more if you made adjustments.
- Plate and serve with a bowl of rice.
Make Gyeran Mari (Rolled Egg)
- Finely dice a small piece of carrot (2 Tablespoons worth) as well as a stalk of green onion (2 Tablespoons worth). Set aside.
- Crack 5 eggs into a bowl. Whisk it thoroughly. Add in Salt (1 big pinch) and Sugar (1 big pinch).
- Add the diced carrot and green onion into the egg mixture - give it a good whisk.
- Now, get out a non-stick frying pan. Place it on LOW heat (this is important!). Place a small amount of cooking oil into the frying pan. Then fold-up one paper towel - and use it to wipe the oil around the pan (it will soak up the oil and leave only a small layer of oil in the pan).
- Once the pan feels hot, place in ⅓ of the egg mixture. Move the pan around so you get a small even layer. Then give it about a minute (or two) for the egg mixture to set and begin lifting off the pan.
- Then slowly roll-up one side of the egg. Keep folding until you reach the other side.
- Once you reach the end, moved the rolled egg piece to one side of the pan. Then place some oil onto the folded paper towel again and coat the pan with a small layer of oil.
- Then add in another ⅓ of the egg mixture. Make sure to tilt that pan so that the egg mixture connects to the rolled egg piece. Then give it about a minute (or two) for the egg mixture to set and lift off the pan. Then slowly roll-up one side of the egg.
- Repeat this process one more time - and use up the remaining ⅓ of the egg mixture.
- Once the egg is rolled, carefully take it off the frying pan. Let it cool for a few minutes. Then use a knife to cut into small rectangular pieces.
Make Myeongran Jeot (Salted Pollock Roe)
- Use a knife to open up one whole pollock roe. Scrape the roe out with a spoon.
- Place the roe into a small plate. Then drizzle on some Sesame Oil (1 Tablespoon), gochugaru (few shakes), diced green onion (few pinches) and sesame seeds (few pinches)
- Mix them all together before eating - make sure to eat with rice (as it is salty!)