Honghap Miyeok Guk (Seaweed Soup with Mussels)

This recipe is a seafood variation of Korean seaweed soup. It’s made with mussels, but you can substitute them with other seafood such as clams or shrimp. 

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What is miyeok guk? 

Miyeok guk (미역국), or miyeokguk, is a soup made with miyeok (also known as wakame) which is a variety of sea vegetable or seaweed. It is a mild and tasty soup typically made with beef or seafood. Here’s Korean seaweed soup with mussels! Mussels are called honghap (홍합), so miyeokguk with mussels is honghap miyeokguk.

More so than other Korean dishes, this soup has a special significance to Koreans. In Korean culture, miyeok guk is traditionally associated with birth. Korean mothers traditionally eat this soup for weeks after giving birth since it has long been believed to contain nutrients that help with a mother’s recovery after giving birth and the production of breast milk.

This sea vegetable is high in fiber and a great source for omega-3 fatty acid, vitamins, calcium, iron and other minerals. 

It is the first meal my mother ate when I was born, and it was the first one I ate upon giving birth to my two children. Due to its symbolic association with birth, miyeok guk is the soup most Koreans eat on their birthdays, hence known as birthday soup. 

Over ten years ago in April 2010, I posted this seaweed soup with mussels recipe when I made it for my mother on her birthday because it was her favorite. She liked her soup mixed in with rice. I have updated it here with new photos, more information and minor changes to the recipe. 

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Miyeok guk variations

While miyeok guk made with beef is most common, seafood such as mussels and clams are also very popular. In Jeju Island, my parents’ hometown, miyeok guk made with galchi (belt fish) is a regional specialty. We used to have it with fresh caught galchi when we visited our relatives in the island.

I sometimes make it with firm, white fish such as monk fish (agu, 아구), flat fish (gajami, 가자미), and tilapia. Some of you might think it would taste fishy, but it really does not, if you use fresh fish. 

If you want to try other seafood with this recipe, simply add the seafood in the step where the mussels are added. 

For vegan miyeok guk, use vegetable broth and some sliced mushrooms for a meaty texture.

Tips for making miyeok guk

  1. You can find dried miyeok at Korean markets. Look for the ones with a deep, dark green hue.
  2. Dried miyeok comes in different types and sizes. Most of them are pretty clean these days so it doesn’t require more thorough cleaning we used to do in the past. Some are even ready to use pre-cleaned and pre-cut so you can use it simply after soaking for a couple of minutes. 
  3. Do not soak the seaweed too long. You’ll lose some of the seaweed flavor. 10 to 20 minutes should be sufficient, but check the package instructions for soaking time. 
  4. Take the time to boil the soup for the specified time for the depth of flavor. 
  5. Miyeok guk freezes well if you have any leftover soup. 

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If you tried this miyeokguk recipe, please rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out for you in the comment section below.  Stay in touch by following me on YouTubePinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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Honghap Miyeokguk (Seaweed Soup with Mussels)

5 from 8 votes
Main, Soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried miyeok (seaweed), 미역 yields about 2 cups soaked
  • 12 to 16 fresh mussels
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons soup soy sauce (gukganjang) or fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Soak the dried miyeok in cold water per package instructions (usually 10 to 20 minutes) or just until it turns soft and plump. Rinse a couple of times to remove any hidden sand. Drain well and cut into bite sizes. See notes 2 and 3.
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  • Rinse the mussels in cold water. Rub a few at a time between your hands (or scrub off) to remove any debris on the shells. If you see a beard attached to the mussels, tug it out.
    DSC9518 01 640x427 - Honghap Miyeok Guk (Seaweed Soup with Mussels)
  • In a large pot, sauté the miyeok with the sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes over medium high heat. You can add a little bit of water it the seaweed gets too dry.
    DSC9532 640x427 - Honghap Miyeok Guk (Seaweed Soup with Mussels)
  • Add 8 cups of water. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and boil for about 25 minutes. 
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  • Drop the mussels in. Add salt (about 2 teaspoons) and pepper to taste. Boil for an additional 5 minutes.
    DSC9542 2 640x427 - Honghap Miyeok Guk (Seaweed Soup with Mussels)

Notes

  1. You can find dried miyeok at Korean markets. Look for the ones with a deep, dark green hue.
  2. Dried miyeok comes in different types and sizes. Most of them are pretty clean these days so it doesn't require more thorough cleaning we used to do in the past. Some are even ready to use pre-cleaned and pre-cut so you can use it simply after soaking for a couple of minutes. 
  3. Do not soak the seaweed too long. You'll lose some of the seaweed flavor. 10 to 20 minutes should be sufficient, but check the package instructions for soaking time. 
  4. Be sure to take the time to boil the soup for the specified time for the depth of flavor. 
  5. Miyeok guk freezes well if you have any leftover soup. 
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