‘All mothers care for their daughters’: A traditional Korean dish honors motherhood through children’s birthdays

Birthdays are about celebrating the arrival of a child, but in Korean tradition, a person exclusive dish designed every single birthday honors motherhood and the associations among mom and dad and their young children. 

All through my husband’s birthday weekend, his beloved food items are on the menu: baked mac n’ cheese and yellow cake with fudge frosting. Aaron chooses these each calendar year, but I usually make a little pot of miyeok guk — seaweed soup. 

‘All mothers care for their daughters’: A traditional Korean dish honors motherhood through children’s birthdays

Hannah Yang lifts a handful of seaweed.

Hannah Yang | MPR Information

I wash and soak the dehydrated seaweed in cold h2o. As a kid, I generally questioned how the eco-friendly slimy issues you find in the ocean transformed into these crinkly strands. Now, each time I make it, the smells and the flavor remind me of my Umma, my mom, building Korean food stuff for me. 

It’s straightforward: mainly seaweed, with stew beef sauteed in sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic. There is a magic formula ingredient my Umma employs, and I assume she’d get mad if I disclosed what it was, but it’s critical to increase it to give the soup that more depth of taste. 

Each birthday, she’d cook it for my birthday with out fall short. For my oppa, my older brother, and my appa, my father, as well. Umma tells me right after just about every birthday, she would take in miyeok guk during postpartum recovery, my halmoni, my grandmother, manufactured for her. 

There are wellbeing benefits to eating seaweed, which is wealthy in iron and natural vitamins. It’s the epitome of property cooking, as my Umma calls it. 

child sits at table

Hannah Yang celebrating her very first birthday in Strongsville, Ohio in January 1994. The ceremony is regarded as dol or doljanchi, which is a Korean custom that celebrates the initial birthday of a newborn. This ceremony blesses the youngster with a prosperous long term and has taken on fantastic significance in Korea.
Doljabi is a tradition the place the baby is placed in entrance of different things or objects. Then, the infant is inspired to grab just one or two merchandise from the established of objects the place each option symbolizes a sure long run of the baby with respect to his or her vocation or a way of life. A pencil indicates they will be a scholar rice suggests never ever heading hungry and string can indicate they will live a lengthy lifetime. Yang grabbed a pencil, which could possibly tie to her job as a journalist.

Hannah Yang | MPR News

“In Korea, beginning from when you’re in the hospital, from when the toddler is born you try to eat miyeok guk,” she mentioned. “So there was a point that for one thirty day period, I just ate seaweed soup.”

Postpartum treatment is recognized as sanhujori. It is historically supplied by the new mother’s family associates and in-legislation households. They prepare dinner nutritious, heat food items and assist care for the infant whilst the mother recovers.

It’s also significant to maintain the system warm. For Korean moms, acquiring uncovered to even a cold breeze is regarded as a taboo. Umma mentioned it’s simply because if a new mother fails to hold her physique warm, it’s thought she could turn out to be inclined to a lifetime-lengthy disease. 

When Umma gave beginning at the medical center in the United States, she found a very various method to postpartum recovery. 

“What shocked me was the distinct culture,” she explained. “When I gave delivery in an American hospital, I desired to consume miyeok guk. I claimed I could eat something heat for the reason that I was cold. But at the healthcare facility, they gave me ice cream.”

By consuming miyeok guk on our birthday, we’re reminded to thank our mothers by consuming the similar food stuff they did postpartum. Umma mentioned that my halmoni took treatment of her just after each and every delivery, staying for virtually a thirty day period right until she recovered. 

Woman holds baby

Hyun Ji Kim and her daughter, Hannah Yang.

Hannah Yang | MPR News

“All moms care for their daughters,” Umma reported. “If they take off their socks, they set them again on. Even when they never want to, they still put it again on for them. They gown them in heat apparel, if not later on it’ll get challenging.”

And they make birthday soup. 

My mom and dad immigrated to the United States in the 1980’s. They desired to be absolutely sure my oppa and I grew up talking Korean in the residence and we ate Korean meals for rather significantly each and every meal. Umma states she was so satisfied that I learned how to cook, incorporating “If you didn’t master, or did not want to understand, then [cooking Korean food] could conclusion with my era.”

I didn’t marry a Korean, but Umma said she was so delighted Aaron and his family enjoy Korean meals. She also loves that there are traditions we can move down to our possess youngsters sometime.

Now, I’m cooking these dishes in my have kitchen. I cooked my Umma’s soup for my spouse in celebration of his birthday. He questioned me to train him how to make it so that he could make me miyeok guk on my birthday subsequent wintertime. 

Since of my Umma, anytime I choose to have little ones of my have, miyeok guk will be on the menu to remind them of me, just like I’m reminded of my very own mother. 

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