Spicy Korean Fish Stew

Korean fish stew
Spicy Korean fish stew

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Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
259 Calories
8g Fat
29g Carbs
24g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 259
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 19mg 6%
Sodium 523mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 24g
Calcium 470mg 36%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The classic Korean fish stew is traditionally known as maeun-tang, which means "spicy" and "soup" or "stew" in the Korean language. The stew is a little bit spicy, a little sweet, and has dozens of variations. Any number of types of fish can be used, including cod, red snapper, halibut, yellow croaker, corvina, sea bass or pollack. Try to go to a fishmonger so you can have the fish head for the broth, even if you have it cleaned and filleted for you.

In certain seafood restaurants in Korea and in some Korean restaurants abroad, you can choose your fish while it's still swimming. The chefs at the restaurant will prepare your fish so that you can enjoy it raw (hwe), and then the restaurant will make this soup for you from the left-over parts of your fish (the head, leftover flesh, and bones) to eat after your sashimi. It ensures that no parts of the fish go to waste, making this an ultra-sustainable meal.


  • 1 whole fish/daegu (filleted with the head separated but reserve)
  • 8 ounces Korean or Chinese white radish (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped)
  • 1 red chili pepper (cut on the bias)
  • 1 green chili pepper (cut on the bias)
  • 1 sweet onion (sliced into strips)
  • 3 teaspoons kochukaru (Korean crushed red chili pepper powder)
  • 3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 scallions (sliced into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1/2 block firm tofu (cubed)
  • 4 ounces edible chrysanthemum leaves (crown daisy, ssukgat)
  • 1/2 medium zucchini (sliced)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste​)

Steps to Make It

  1. Cut the fish into several pieces.

  2. Bring 3 to 4 cups water (depending on the size of your fish) and the fish head to a boil.

  3. Add radish, garlic, gochujang, kochukaru, and sliced chilies and continue to cook over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Don't stir too much, as you want the broth to be relatively clear.

  4. Remove the fish head and add the fish meat into the pot. Simmer until fish is tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.

  5. Add tofu, edible chrysanthemum (crown daisy) and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes more. Do not stir anymore.


  • Extract the excess water from the tofu by wrapping it in paper towels, putting it on a plate, and weighing it down with a heavy plate. Leave it for 30 minutes and drain the liquid before cubing the tofu.
  • To help determine if the whole fish is fresh, look at the eyes. Older fish have cloudy eyes, while fresh fish's eyes are bright and clear.
  • If you don't discard the fish bones during the cooking process, add an empty bowl on the table for people to place the bones in as they eat the fish stew.
  • Serve with steamed white rice on the side for people to ladle the soup over while eating. You can also put thin noodles in the soup itself.
  • Freeze the soup in individual portions to eat at a later date. The stew will last in the refrigerator for one to two days.

Recipe Variations

  • For vegetable variations, include soybean sprouts, pumpkin, mushrooms, scallions, watercress, or Korean parsley (minari or water dropwort). Radish, zucchini and chili peppers are frequently used in homemade varieties.
  • For more variety of seafood, add clams, oysters or other shellfish to the maeun-tang.

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