Loach Soup(鰍魚湯)

Loach Soup

Headword

추어탕 ( 鰍魚湯 , Chueotang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Autumn > 9th Lunar month > Food

Writer KimSangbo(金尙寶)

Loaches are frequently consumed between the seventh and eleventh lunar months as they become plump after spring and early summer and are the tastiest around this time. Loach, known in Korean as mikkuragi (Kor. 미꾸라지), can also be referred to by Sino-Korean character-based names including ichu (Kor. 이추, Chin. 泥鰌, 泥鰍) or chueo (Kor. 추어, Chin. 鰍魚); accordingly, chueotang (Kor. 추어탕, Chin. 鰍魚湯) is the name for loach soup.

The oldest Korean mention of loach soup is found in the “Oju Yeonmun Jangjeon Sango” (Kor. 오주연문장전산고, Chin. 五洲衍文長箋散稿, Random Expatiations of Oju, the mid-19th century). In the section on clothing and diet entitled “Insapyeon” (Kor. 인사편, Chin. 人事篇, Book of Society and Living) one finds the following recipe for loach soup, which is referred to in the book as chudubutang (Kor. 추두부탕, Chin. 鰍豆腐湯): “The loaches are placed inside a jar filled with fresh water for five to six days, until they regurgitate the mud that they have swallowed. Water needs to be changed frequently about three times a day. Then, place fifty to sixty loaches in a pot filled with water and several blocks of tofu and heat the pot. As the temperature of the water rises, the loaches will penetrate the tofu blocks because the inside part of tofu is cooler than the water. When the water reaches a boiling point, the loaches become cooked inside the tofu blocks. Next, the tofu blocks with loaches are taken out of the water, sliced and fried in sesame oil, and a soup is prepared with the fried slices. The gwanno [Kor. 관노, Chin. 官奴, lit. government slaves] of Seoul appreciate this soup with a special flavor as a delicacy.” As the passage above suggests, in the mid-19th century, loach soup was not an upscale dish enjoyed by the upper class, but rather a delicacy for the lower classes.

Loach soup, which is rich in protein, calcium and other minerals, makes for a hearty meal. Thus, in traditional Korea, it was a seasonal dish, which helped the farmers to recharge their bodies which had become depleted of energy after a long hot summer with strenuous work. Today, loach soup is consumed at any time irrespective of the season as loaches are farmed and are available throughout the year.

Loach Soup

Loach Soup
Headword

추어탕 ( 鰍魚湯 , Chueotang )

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Seasonal Customs > Autumn > 9th Lunar month > Food

Writer KimSangbo(金尙寶)

Loaches are frequently consumed between the seventh and eleventh lunar months as they become plump after spring and early summer and are the tastiest around this time. Loach, known in Korean as mikkuragi (Kor. 미꾸라지), can also be referred to by Sino-Korean character-based names including ichu (Kor. 이추, Chin. 泥鰌, 泥鰍) or chueo (Kor. 추어, Chin. 鰍魚); accordingly, chueotang (Kor. 추어탕, Chin. 鰍魚湯) is the name for loach soup.

The oldest Korean mention of loach soup is found in the “Oju Yeonmun Jangjeon Sango” (Kor. 오주연문장전산고, Chin. 五洲衍文長箋散稿, Random Expatiations of Oju, the mid-19th century). In the section on clothing and diet entitled “Insapyeon” (Kor. 인사편, Chin. 人事篇, Book of Society and Living) one finds the following recipe for loach soup, which is referred to in the book as chudubutang (Kor. 추두부탕, Chin. 鰍豆腐湯): “The loaches are placed inside a jar filled with fresh water for five to six days, until they regurgitate the mud that they have swallowed. Water needs to be changed frequently about three times a day. Then, place fifty to sixty loaches in a pot filled with water and several blocks of tofu and heat the pot. As the temperature of the water rises, the loaches will penetrate the tofu blocks because the inside part of tofu is cooler than the water. When the water reaches a boiling point, the loaches become cooked inside the tofu blocks. Next, the tofu blocks with loaches are taken out of the water, sliced and fried in sesame oil, and a soup is prepared with the fried slices. The gwanno [Kor. 관노, Chin. 官奴, lit. government slaves] of Seoul appreciate this soup with a special flavor as a delicacy.” As the passage above suggests, in the mid-19th century, loach soup was not an upscale dish enjoyed by the upper class, but rather a delicacy for the lower classes.

Loach soup, which is rich in protein, calcium and other minerals, makes for a hearty meal. Thus, in traditional Korea, it was a seasonal dish, which helped the farmers to recharge their bodies which had become depleted of energy after a long hot summer with strenuous work. Today, loach soup is consumed at any time irrespective of the season as loaches are farmed and are available throughout the year.