Korean Eating: Wait… I’m eating mud? 추어탕

There have been a few times in Korea when I was glad that I wasn’t told what I was eating until after I was done eating it and chuotang was one of those times.

Usually the issue is just with translations. Who wants to hear they’re eating penis fish? Who wants to hear they’re eating the cow’s third stomach? The translations are just never as appetizing as the dishes that are served. With chuotang however, it isn’t the translation that’s the issue, it’s just the name of the fish. Chuotang (추어탕) is mud fish stew. Considering the word mud and that the stew arrives and it’s a muddy brown color, it’d be a difficult sell for anyone. It also would not have been surprising to me if there was in fact mud in it, probably “healthy” mud though. A few years ago I was given ggomak, 꼬막, or cockles, to eat at a party. A bowl full of these small shells arrived with dirt and sand all over them. I assumed they hadn’t been washed or prepared yet only to look around and see everyone devouring them… that dish still hasn’t grown on me.

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Chuotang 추어탕Luckily, chuotang does not actually have mud in it. The mudfish, or loach fish, is crushed up in its entirety and boiled with leaks, green onions, cabbage, garlic, soybean paste and red pepper paste. It has a very familiar taste, yet it’s hard to say exactly what it is. It has a minty or an all spice taste and at times the bite can be a little gritty, ground up fish after all, but it’s worth it. The soup is filling, but not heavy. As is the norm in Korea, the soup is served with rice and side dishes. Our local stop, a Chunhyanggol Namwon Chueotang (춘향골남원추어탕) just up the street, also offers up fried stuffed green peppers. This restaurant is a branch and can be found all around Korea. Chuotang 추어탕

Chuotang is mighty healthy.

The dish is high in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A and unsaturated fat. It helps in lowering cholesterol and helps with constipation. It’s good for energy and stamina. There’s nothing bad about this soup, except for maybe the color. The next time you see chuotang on the menu, give it a try. You won’t be sorry.

Chuotang 추어탕Stuffed PeppersThe dish can range in price, but expect to pay around W6,000 – W9,000 for some mudfish goodness. Enjoy.

Korean Eating Wait... I'm eating mud? 추어탕: It looks like mud and yes, there's mud fish in it but it tastes way better than it looks. Try Korean mud fish, or loach fish, stew if you have the chance. This is a tasty treat in Korea.

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  1. We just tried this for the first time a few weeks ago, and spent a lot of time googling it to find out exactly what this fish was all about. Didn’t know about all the great health benefits, but it definitely FELT healthy when we were eating it…especially while chewing on those ground up fish bones. Calcium, right?

    • Hallie says:

      There are YouTube videos of then flopping around in mud and then being ground up. It’s really not what you want to see BEFORE you eat it, but after… Haha. Very healthy for sure. Glad you tried it. I don’t hear it come up in top ten lists or anything but I think it’s pretty delicious.

  2. Nina says:

    Being in a rural area in Korea, its actually quite popular to eat at my school when we go out for dinner or lunch. I knew what it was when I first ate it and I happen to like it. I’d agree with the give it a try! It’s actually quite good especially in the winter.^^

  3. Nina says:

    Haha we always eat it at a restaurant. My tired brain didn’t write correctly earlier lol. My schools don’t serve it either. 😉

  1. February 26, 2014

    […] original post was published on The Soul of Seoul. This article cannot be republished unless […]

  2. January 1, 2015

    […] people visit me in Korea from back home reminds me that I am a very adventurous eater. From eel to mudfish and everything in between, it seems like many of the dishes that I have come to love over the years […]

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