Miyuk Guk - Seaweed Soup (미역국)

Miyuk guk is what Koreans have instead of birthday cake. As a kid, I remember my mom making it on my birthday (though not exclusively - we had it for non-special occasions as well) and she ate a lot of it when she was pregnant with my sister. It's really nutritious (the seaweed contains tons of iodine and calcium, which is good for moms-to-be) but it's also really yummy so it's one of my favorite soups.

It's simple to make and only requires a few ingredients:
1 fistful of dried seaweed (found in Asian markets)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt to taste
6 cups of stock**

** Miyuk guk can be made with either a beef stock or a seafood stock - usually made from mussels and clams and dried anchovies

Here's what the seaweed looks like: black strips of crispy papery stuff. They plump up a lot once they're rehydrated so a little goes a long way.
I used oxtails to make my stock. Start by soaking both the seaweed and oxtails in water, both for around 2 hours. Often times, the seaweed is still really salty (because it's not rinsed before it's dried) so this step is important for drawing out the salt and also to rehydrate the seaweed. Once it's soaked, rinse and then squeeze out the excess water and if the pieces seem gigantic, cut them up with some scissors so that they're not difficult to eat.

Soaking the oxtails helps drain any excess "blood" (it's not actually blood, it's really myoglobin and some other proteins) so that the stock is clear and requires less skimming. After the tails have soaked, drain, rinse, and then put in a huge pot with 8 to 10 cups of water and boil for two hours (or longer if you have the time) until you have a decent stock. It should reduce to about 6 cups by the time it's done.
To make the soup itself, in another huge pot, heat up 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Saute the drained seaweed for a few minutes - until each piece has a chance to get coated in oil - and then add in the stock and let it simmer for 20 minutes so the stock has a chance to take on the flavors of the seaweed. Immediately before serving add salt to taste. If you want, you can shred some of the oxtail meat and add it to the soup as well. However, I'm not a huge fan of meats in Korean soups so I skipped that step.
Serve with rice and enjoy.