Recipe – Korea

“To make seaweed soup you need a large tub of water, with actual seaweed, not dried seaweed, beef stock, and a little bit of salt. Boil that for about 5 hours. That’s about it. Maybe toss in some tofu or some onion leeks, chopped up, that’s if you have them.”

Phillip told me that, since his mother is Korean, she makes this dish every year for the Korean New Year, or just the Asian New Year, because he wasn’t very sure which one it was for since he is also part Chinese. Every year, his family gets together to celebrate the New Year for dinner and one of the dishes prepared is seaweed soup. He said that, typically, Koreans will make a fancy dish instead of giving out red letters that contain money. Sometimes clothes are given as well during the New Year. Phillip believes that the reason special meals are prepared for the Korean New Year instead of money being given out is because New Year’s celebrations aren’t that big of a deal for Korean people. He said that he personally hates seaweed soup, and that he would prefer money, or at least a better dish, because seaweed soup is really nothing special. The reason that seaweed soup has become a traditional dish in his family is because when his mother lived in Korea, her family did not have much money and the best that they could come up with was the seaweed soup for New Years. Phillip thought that it was actually really depressing, that his family still makes such a simple dish that reminds them of a time when they didn’t have money.

From my view, it seems logical that the reason that the reason such a simple dish is made every year for Phillip’s because his mother’s family did not have much money back in Korea. Seaweed soup seems like it is a very simple dish, and it doesn’t seem to have much significance or any special connection to the new year as Moon Cakes do for the Chinese Moon Festival.  This is also supported by the fact that the rest of his family’s New Year celebration isn’t very elaborate, and doesn’t include the exchange of clothes or money. His family must have just continued to celebrate the New Year in the same way as they did in Korea as a result of habit.