Wednesday, October 28, 2020

[Food] Chueo-tang (추어탕, Loach Soup)


[Food] Chueo-tang (추어탕, Loach Soup)

What do you usually think of loach or mudfish? Maybe nothing or 'eww, slippery' but can you imagine there being people who love to eat loach as soup? Yes, Koreans eat loach as soup. It's been eaten for a long time (more than 1,000 years) usually by people of low social status such as slaves and servants, but people of high social status also ate it, secretly at night. Eventually, Korean nobles and aristocrats ate it. Can you think why? :)

Oriental loach. By Manoel Jr. -, CC BY-SA 2.0,

According to many traditional Korean medical and cuisine books, loach is very effective for providing 'stamina and energy' (particularly for men). Loach's Korean name is 'Chueo' which means 'autumn fish' because Korean loach usually lives in a rice paddy (brook and creek too), and Koreans eat them in autumn after removing all the water from the rice paddy to harvest :)

It smells very fishy and muddy so strong seasonings (Chinese pepper, spicy chili, garlic etc.) must be used to cook them to remove their unique odor. There two styles of cooking Chueo-tang (추어탕, loach soup), which are middle part (Seoul and Gaeseong)-style that use loach in whole and south part (Jeolla and Gyeongsang province)-style that grind whole loach. Well, I prefer south part-style Chueo-tang because I don't want to chew big chunks of loach in my mouth :)

It just looks like common doenjang-jjigae (Korean bean-paste stew) but it tastes uniquely like loach - savory and spicy. It also fills you with stamina and energy, so why don't you try? It may turn you into an 'Energizer' :)

By the way, the most famous chueo-tang restaurant is 'Yonggeumok' in Seoul which even North Korean VIPs ask whether it's still running because they miss the taste it had before the Korean War :)

Bon Appétit!

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