Traditional Korean seaweed soup

Sea Veg Soup

Traditional Korean seaweed soup
Miyeok Guk image from Blue Foods as Medicine cookbook

This recipe highlights “Sea Vegetables,” or “Sea Greens,” which are newer terms that refer to ancient plant foods from the sea that have long been enjoyed by coastal cultures. Popular types of sea vegetables that you can now find in many grocery stores in the United States includes gim (laver), miyeok (sea mustard), dasima (kelp).

I took a deep dive (forgive the ocean pun) into sea greens last year in this article for IDEA Fitness Journal.

More recently, I shared my recipe for Miyeok Guk to be part of a FREE cookbook that features sustainable seafood, also known as “Blue Foods.” There are 20 recipes, a nutrition overview, and simple tips for including more blue foods in your life at the Blue Foods as Medicine cookbook, which you can download for free here.

This is a pescatarian recipe, though this dish often includes a small amount of lean cuts of beef. Even though it is common, it is optional — the essential element is the seaweed. My version uses dried anchovies to quickly develop a depth of flavor in the broth in just 15 minutes. It can be made vegan by omitting the anchovies; in which case, you may want to add soy sauce before serving, to taste. 

I hope you enjoy this super simple and nourishing soup as part of a larger meal. It is very low in calories and so it is not meant to be a whole meal, but instead it is meant to be a starter or side dish. For this recipe and more, check out the Blue Foods as Medicine cookbook.

Miyeok Guk
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: 1 bowl
  • Calories: 13
  • Fat: 0
  • Saturated fat: 0
  • Unsaturated fat: 0
  • Trans fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 2
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 496
  • Fiber: 1
  • Protein: 3
  • Cholesterol: 0
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Korean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Miyeok is the name of the seaweed used in this traditional Korean soup. It is also known as "sea mustard" in the U.S., or by it's anglicized Japanese name, "wakame." It is a simple soup Koreans enjoy on birthdays because its one of hte first foods given to nourish new mothers. It's quick and easy to make anytime to benefit from iodine, folate, trace minerals, and antioxidants.
  • 9 cups water
  • 14 large dried anchovies (about 3 inches each), heads and guts removed
  • 2 pieces (about 3 x 4-inch) dried dasima (kelp)
  • ½ cup loosely packed dried miyeok (wakame), coarsely chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 2 tablespoons gukganjang (Korean soy sauce), divided
  • Toasted sesame oil to taste (optional)
  1. Combine water, trimmed anchovies, and dasima in a 3-quart pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove anchovies from broth and use for compost or another use. Remove and strain dasima, allowing to cool before slicing into 1-inch pieces, then set aside.
  2. Add miyeok and garlic to the broth.
  3. Add up to 1 tablespoon gukganjang, one teaspoon at a time, to achieve desired taste.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir dasima back into the pot, and remove from heat.
  5. To serve, divide soup evenly among 4 soup bowls. May add a few drops of sesame oil to each bowl to taste, if desired.
Dasima (Korean) is also sold as “kelp” (American) or “kombu” (Japanese). Miyeok (Korean) is also sold as “sea mustard” (American) or “wakame” (Japanese).
This recipe is based on a dried miyeok that does not require soaking. If needed, soak in cold filtered water for 30 minutes, drain, squeeze, and rough chop into 2-inch pieces for the recipe.

Gukganjang is a variety of Korean soy sauce used to season soups and stews. It is lighter in color, less sweet, but saltier than basic soy sauce. It is sometimes sold as “soy sauce for soup” by Korean brands. If unavailable, use salt to taste.


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