What Koreans Eat For Glowing Skin (Part 1: Seaweed Soup)

Korean-seafood-soup-for-healthy-skin

By Minji

  • Certain Korean eating habits might contribute to many Koreans having relatively good skin 
  • In addition to a basic diet that is on the whole skin-friendly, there are a few everyday dishes that Koreans swear by when it comes to glowing skin
  • For this inaugural post, let me introduce Miyeok Guk, better known here as Korean seaweed soup!

I often come across people attributing my healthy skin to the fact that I’m Korean.  It goes something like, “of course you have good skin, all Koreans do…” Obviously, this is not true and a drastic over-generalization, but I do think certain common Korean eating habits might contribute to many Koreans having relatively good skin (there’s also the fact that we’re a nation obsessed with skincare, so another chicken and egg problem!)

Traditional Korean cuisine typically consists of a bowl of rice, a soup and various side dishes, almost always including kimchi.  Most dishes are prepared in a non-greasy way and don’t include too much dairy. Korea is actually one of the countries with the highest lactose intolerance population and plant-based milk alternatives have been popular for ages.   

Kimchi is packed with probiotics and good bacteria that aids in digestion which is critical for a clear complexion.  Daily soup drinking helps with hydration, also absolutely necessary for skin health.  We’re hearing all the time how greasy foods and dairy can be bad for skin.

Dr. Yoon adds, "it has been found that intestinal microbes play an important role in health. Koreans eat a lot of fermented foods such as Kimchi and fermented foods provide good nutrition to the intestinal microbes, so it can help with skin health too. In a recent study, it was reported that eating 300g of Kimchi a day increases the amount of beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the colon by about 100 times compared to those who did not eat Kimchi." 

In addition to a basic diet that seems to be on the whole skin-healthy friendly, there are a few everyday dishes that Koreans swear by when it comes to glowing skin.  In this series, I’ll introduce them to you one by one with recipes that I promise aren’t too complicated with ingredients easily sourced even in the U.S.!

For this inaugural post, let me introduce Miyeok Guk, better known here as Korean seaweed soup. Korean seaweed soup is best known as “the food” new mothers must eat for at least a month.  When I had my daughter, the first dish my mom made for me was this Miyeok Guk and I ate it every day for the entire month without exception. It’s also tradition to have this soup on birthdays.  Korean superstition also cautions against eating this prior to big exams - you don't want to "slip and fail" due to the slippery seaweed!

Miyeok (aka Korean seaweed) is considered a super food in Korea. It contains calcium, iodine, omega-3 healthy fats, vitamins and amino acids and is known to help boost circulation, prevent inflammation and help detoxify your system, all great for the skin.  You might already know, but seaweed is a rising star in terms of skincare product ingredients for these reasons as well.  

There are tons of recipes when it comes to Miyeok Guk but I’m sharing this one as it’s super easy to make and also super delicious.  Try it out and spark a glow!  

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 20 grams of dried Korean seaweed (make sure you get miyeok and not the seasoned seaweed snacks!)
  • 10-12 cups of water (or vegetable stock if you’re going meat-free)
  • 4 tbs soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 200 grams of beef brisket (you can substitute with mussels, other seafood or even mushrooms)
  • 1 tbs of minced garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • Dash of toasted sesame oil
  • teaspoon of powdered dashi (if you have it but not necessary)

Directions

  1. Soak dried seaweed in a big bowl for about 5-10 minutes. Drain and chop into bite sized pieces.
  2. Cut the beef brisket into bite size pieces. Add sesame oil to a big soup pot along with the beef, garlic, soy sauce and dashi (if you have it) and stir fry over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped seaweed to the pot and fry over medium heat for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add 10-12 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes.  Add salt to taste.
  5. Serve with rice and Kimchi, and see your skin glow from the inside out!