Maeuntang is a spicy seafood dish that is perfect for any season. On those cold winter days, the piping hot broth and spicy taste will warm you up. The spicy heat helps you sweat out the heat and calm down in the weather. The creamy seafood flavour from the whole fish also adds a refreshing note to the broth.
Because the stew is full of flavour and a variety of hearty ingredients, it is ideal to serve with a basic dish of newly steamed rice.
Don’t be scared to have extra to reheat later. I notice that the flavours of the soup increase overnight. It can taste even better the next day.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST FISH FOR MAEUNTANG?
Maeuntang is typically prepared with white fleshed fish such as red snapper (domi), cod (daegu), monkfish (agu), yellow croaker (jogi), and black sea bass. Fresh, whole seafood is preferred. Simply request that your butcher descale, gut, clean, and slice the fish. This will greatly reduce preparation time.
I tried using fish fillet portions, but I discovered that using whole fish adds a lot more flavour and creates a fuller, velvety broth due to the fish skin and bones. You’ll find dishes that use the fish skull. But I prefer to leave it out. It has a lot of flavour, but the head isn’t always as descaled as the body, and I typically end up picking out the fish scales throughout the dinner. If you have any suggestions for how to prevent this, please share them in the comments!
HOW DOES MAEUNTANG TASTE?
Maeuntang directly translates to “spicy broth” in Korean. The gochujang and gochugaru provide the fire.
Gochujang () is a spicy, mildly sweet, and flavorful fermented Korean red chilli pepper paste. Gochugaru () is a type of desiccated Korean red pepper powder. You can change the amount of spice in your broth by adding more or less gochugaru.
Because the spice amounts of gochujang and gochugaru differ based on the brand, I recommend using a little less the first time you prepare with these ingredients. If the meal is too bland, you can add a bit more spice before it is done cooking, but it is difficult to make it less spicy after adding too much.
I garnish the broth with finely sliced red long hot pepper near the end of the cooking time. It imparts a slightly stronger heat to the broth. The vibrant scarlet also lends a lovely pop of colour.
The umami levels in the broth body are complicated. The broth foundation, which is made with dried seaweed (dashima, ) and dried anchovy (myulchi, ), contributes umami. Dashima broth is widely used in Korean and Japanese cooking and provides a savoury and umami-rich richness of flavour.
Usually, big, dried anchovies must be gutted before use. I like to use this dried anchovy seafood broth package to save time. It’s also simple to get rid of.
The chopped shiitake mushrooms contribute some flavour as well. The gochujang, doenjang, and fish sauce in the maeuntang flavour mixture provide the majority of the umami.
Gochujang adds flavorful umami to the broth as well as spicy fire. Doenjang is a fermented Korean soybean sauce that tastes salted, earthy, and umami-rich. These Korean food mainstays are available at your neighbourhood Korean supermarket (e.g., H-Mart), or you can purchase them online here.
The Korean radish (mu, ) adds a crisp and clean flavour to the broth. If you can’t locate it at your local grocery shop, you can substitute daikon radish. Korean daikon has a slightly sweet flavour and is not as bitter. When the radish is prepared in the broth, it becomes soft, juicy, and filled with stock flavours.
The soybean stems (kongnamul, ) add a faint nutty flavour and a crunchy texture to the broth. Although soybean sprouts are not used in all maeuntang recipes, I enjoy the taste they contribute to the soup.
A tiny knob of ginger gives the broth a delicate, spicy, and comforting lemony taste.
Tofu, sliced and firm, is added near the end of the cooking time. As the stock simmers, the tofu absorbs some of the broth, making it delicious. It’s also a good source of energy.
At the very conclusion, the broth is garnished with fresh crown daisies (ssuk gat, ). It has an unique herb flavour that complements shellfish and umami tastes. It’s also in my kimchi udon.