Traditional Korean Postpartum Care | Ancient Recipes & Healing Practices
When it comes to whole body postpartum healing, there is incredible wisdom that has been passed down from cultures and societies all over the world. Some of the cultures that we’ve collected rituals and recipes from include Chinese, Korean, Indian, Jamaican, and English. This traditional postpartum series is meant to make this sacred information more accessible and honor the ancient healing modalities that have been lost in our modern world.
The traditional Korean view of the postpartum period is honored as a sacred time of recovery for the mother. It is commonly referred to as Saam-chil-il, and the direct translation is “three-seven-days” or 21 days dedicated to the wellbeing of mom and baby.
Herbal steam baths are a common practice during this time. A sitz bath can be filled with warm water and Mugwort herbs to provide a nourishing and circulation boosting vaginal steam. Massages with heated towels are another healing tool used to increase blood circulation and promote healing.
The healing nature of warmth continues to be a focus for traditional cultures, including Korean. Anything cold is ideally avoided during the first 21 days, including foods and temperatures.
Nourishment and recovery through traditional postpartum recipes and rituals that have been passed down through generations of mothers needs to be celebrated and honored. Korean culture offers us an incredible example of cultural practices and food as a channel for whole body healing, and we are so grateful to be able to share some recipes with you today.
Recipes for Postpartum Healing
Seaweed Soup for Postpartum Mothers
A staple postpartum soup recipe packed with nutrient rich ingredients that aid in healing and overall detoxification.
- 1.5 ounces dried miyeok yields about 3 cups soaked
- 6 ounces beef stew meat or brisket
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons soup soy sauce (gukganjang, 국간장) If unavailable, use 1 T regular soy sauce and season with salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- salt and pepper
- 10 cups water
- Soak the dried miyeok per package instructions (usually 10 to 20 min) or until miyeok turns soft and plump. Rinse twice. Drain well, and cut into bite sizes.
- Cut the beef into thin bite size pieces. Marinate with 1 tablespoon of soup soy sauce, garlic, and a pinch of pepper.
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Sauté the meat with the sesame oil just until the meat is no longer red.
- Add the miyeok and 1 tablespoon of soup soy sauce, and continue to sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add 10 cups of water, and bring it to a boil. Skim off any scum. Add salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to medium low. Boil, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes until the meat is tender and the broth is slightly milky.
Another simple, warming recipe that is easy on the stomach and high in nutrient dense ingredients.
- 7 cups water
- 1 kabocha squash
- Sweet Rice Slurry
– 6 Tbsp sweet rice flour (mochi flour)
– 8 Tbsp water
– 3 Tbsp sugar (optional or use less for soup)
– 0.75 tsp Sea Salt
- If you have a whole Kabocha Squash, rinse and microwave on high for 5 – 6 minutes. It is much easier to cut and peel when cooked slightly. Cut Kabocha Squash into big chunks after peeling them.
- Boil cut kabocha in a pot (bring to boil then reduce to medium heat) with water. (3 cups water per 1 Kabocha Squash) Cook for 25-30 minutes until fork goes in really easily and breaks apart.
- Once the squash or pumpkin pieces are fully cooked, get a blender or chopper to blend it as smoothly as you’d like. Divided pumpkins into 2 or more batches depending on the size of your blender.
For each 1 cooked Kabocha Squash, blend the squash + remaining liquid from pot + 4 cups water.
You can put the blended pumpkin mix back into a large pot. Season with sugar and sea salt to taste. Mix.
Turn heat on low to simmer.
- Make a sweet flour slurry of (6 Tbs sweet rice flour + 8 Tbs water per 1 Kabocha) to thicken up the Pumpkin soup to turn into Pumpkin Porridge. Using a whisk, mix quickly as you pour the slurry in. Simmer for another 5 min. SERVE warm.
A classic and wholesome rice bowl of vegetables, beef and a gochujang sauce.
- 3 cups short grain rice
- 8 ounces thinly sliced tender beef (rib eye, sirloin, etc. or ground beef)
- 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons rice wine
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (This recipes needs 2.5 teaspoons minced garlic in total. Mince it all at once for efficiency.)
- 1 tablespoon chopped scallion (This recipe needs 4 tablespoons, 1 or 2 scallions depending on the size, in total. Chop them all once for efficiency.)
- pepper to taste
Eggs & Veggies:
- 8 ounces mung bean sprouts (sukju, 숙주) or soybean sprouts (kongnamul, 콩나물) – see more vegetable options below.
- 1 bunch spinach, about 8 ounces
- 2 small cucumbers, about 5 ounces
- 4 ounces mushrooms (shiitake, white, cremini, etc.)
- 2 medium carrots, about 5 ounces
- 1.5 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
- 3 3 tablespoons chopped scallion, divided
- sesame oil
- sesame seeds
- 4 eggs – optional
- cooking oil
- 4 tablespoons gochujang, 고추장
- 2 teaspoons sugar – adjust to taste, 1-3 teaspoons
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- Cook the rice, without soaking and using a little less water than the amount you normally use. The rice for bibimbap should be a little drier than usual for best results.
- Beef: Cut into thin 2-inch long strips. Mix in 1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of rice wine, 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 sesame seeds and a pinch of pepper. Marinate for 20 minutes. Sauté in a skillet for 2-3 minutes over high heat.
- Bean sprouts: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the bean sprouts and briefly blanch, about 1 minute, flipping over once. Drain quickly and shock in cold water to stop cooking. Drain again. Toss with 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds, and salt (about 1/2 teaspoon).
- Spinach: Blanch the spinach in salted boiling water only until wilted, about 40 seconds. Drain quickly and shock in cold water. Squeeze out water. Cut into 3-inch lengths. Toss with 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds and salt (about 1/2 teaspoon).
- Cucumbers: Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then thinly slice crosswise. Generously sprinkle salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) over sliced cucumbers and set aside for 10 – 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid. Toss with 1 tablespoon of chopped scallion, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds.
- Mushrooms and carrots: Thinly slice the mushrooms and carrots. Sauté each vegetable in a lightly oiled skillet for 1 – 2 minutes over medium-high heat, sprinkling with salt (about 1/4 teaspoon).
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Place a serving of rice in a big bowl. Nicely arrange a small amount of each prepared vegetable and beef over the rice. Drizzle a little sesame oil over. Top with an optional fried egg and serve with the sauce.