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

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

Birthdays are about celebrating the arrival of a youngster, but in Korean custom, 1 exclusive dish produced each individual birthday honors motherhood and the interactions amongst mothers and fathers and their small children. 

During my husband’s birthday weekend, his favorite foods are on the menu: baked mac n’ cheese and yellow cake with fudge frosting. Aaron chooses these every 12 months, but I normally make a small pot of miyeok guk — seaweed soup. 

Hand takes seaweed

Hannah Yang lifts a handful of seaweed.

Hannah Yang | MPR News

I clean and soak the dehydrated seaweed in cold h2o. As a kid, I normally questioned how the environmentally friendly slimy items you uncover in the ocean remodeled into these crinkly strands. Now, each time I make it, the smells and the style remind me of my Umma, my mom, earning Korean meals for me. 

It is straightforward: generally seaweed, with stew beef sauteed in sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic. There’s a magic formula ingredient my Umma utilizes, and I think she’d get mad if I disclosed what it was, but it is crucial to include it to give the soup that extra depth of flavor. 

Just about every birthday, she’d prepare dinner it for my birthday devoid of fail. For my oppa, my older brother, and my appa, my father, way too. Umma tells me following just about every birthday, she would take in miyeok guk during postpartum restoration, my halmoni, my grandmother, manufactured for her. 

There are overall health rewards to ingesting seaweed, which is loaded in iron and 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 recognised as dol or doljanchi, which is a Korean tradition that celebrates the to start with birthday of a newborn. This ceremony blesses the kid with a affluent long run and has taken on great importance in Korea.
Doljabi is a tradition exactly where the little one is put in front of numerous items or objects. Then, the baby is encouraged to get one particular or two products from the established of objects in which just about every alternative symbolizes a specific foreseeable future of the baby with respect to his or her job or a life-style. A pencil signifies they will be a scholar rice implies by no means going hungry and string can show they will dwell a very long life. Yang grabbed a pencil, which may well tie to her career as a journalist.

Hannah Yang | MPR News

“In Korea, starting off from when you are in the healthcare facility, from when the toddler is born you eat miyeok guk,” she explained. “So there was a place that for one month, I just ate seaweed soup.”

Postpartum treatment is known as sanhujori. It is historically furnished by the new mother’s spouse and children customers and in-legislation people. They cook healthy, warm meals and enable treatment for the toddler although the mom recovers.

It is also crucial to retain the physique heat. For Korean moms, acquiring exposed to even a chilly breeze is thought of a taboo. Umma reported it is due to the fact if a new mom fails to continue to keep her human body heat, it’s considered she could grow to be vulnerable to a lifetime-extensive illness. 

When Umma gave beginning at the medical center in the United States, she uncovered a extremely distinctive technique to postpartum restoration. 

“What shocked me was the distinct tradition,” she reported. “When I gave delivery in an American clinic, I needed to take in miyeok guk. I explained I could eat one thing warm since I was cold. But at the medical center, they gave me ice cream.”

By eating miyeok guk on our birthday, we’re reminded to thank our moms by eating the exact same foods they did postpartum. Umma stated that my halmoni took treatment of her after every beginning, being for nearly a thirty day period right up until she recovered. 

Woman holds baby

Hyun Ji Kim and her daughter, Hannah Yang.

Hannah Yang | MPR Information

“All moms care for their daughters,” Umma said. “If they take off their socks, they set them back again on. Even when they really do not want to, they nonetheless set it back on for them. They gown them in warm garments, if not later on it’ll get strenuous.”

And they make birthday soup. 

My dad and mom immigrated to the United States in the 1980’s. They desired to be guaranteed my oppa and I grew up talking Korean in the dwelling and we ate Korean food for rather significantly just about every food. Umma states she was so joyful that I learned how to cook dinner, introducing “If you didn’t understand, or didn’t want to find out, then [cooking Korean food] could end with my generation.”

I did not marry a Korean, but Umma mentioned she was so content Aaron and his relatives like Korean food. She also loves that there are traditions we can go down to our individual kids someday.

Now, I’m cooking these dishes in my very own kitchen area. I cooked my Umma’s soup for my husband in celebration of his birthday. He requested me to educate him how to make it so that he could make me miyeok guk on my birthday up coming winter. 

Because of my Umma, whenever I pick to have little ones of my possess, 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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