Spicy fish stew

Maeuntang 매운탕

If you love seafood and spicy stews, I’m sure you’ll absolutely love this one, called maeuntang in Korean and spicy fish stew (or soup) in English. It can be made with pretty much any type of fish but most importantly the fish should be fresh! In this recipe and video I use black sea bass, or nongeo in Korean, so this dish would specifically be called nongeo-maeuntang.

On a recent trip to Montauk, Long Island I was lucky to get fresh-caught black sea bass right off the dock, as soon as the fisherman brought it in. I know a lot of you won’t be able to find fish that fresh, so in your local fish market choose a fish with clear eyes and a firm body. Make sure it isn’t smelly at all and has red gills on the inside. You may have to open the fish head a bit to check the color of the gills. If they’re brownish, don’t pick that fish. White fleshed fish is best for making maeuntang, so flounder, fluke, yellow corvina, and red snapper will all work well, but any kind of fish will be good, as long as it’s fresh.


Maeuntang is one of Koreans’ most-loved seafood dishes. Most Korean households have all these seasonings on hand, so it’s a great way to share a delicious, fresh fish with friends and family. It’s easy to make and the savory, spicy stew sits in the middle of the table and everyone can enjoy it together.

Ingredients (serves 3 to 4)

  • 2½ pounds cleaned whole fish (black sea bass, cod, pollock, flounder, fluke), cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 pound Korean radish (or daikon) sliced into ⅛ inch thin bite sized pieces
  • 7-8 large dried anchovies, with heads and guts removed and placed in a stock pouch (or soup strainer, or tied up in cheesecloth)
  • 1 dae-pa (or 4 to 5 green onions), sliced diagonally
  • 1 large green chili pepper, sliced
  • 1 red chili pepper, optional but if you use, sliced diagonally
  • 4-5 sprigs of chrysanthemum greens (substitute with a few basil sprigs)


For the seasoning paste:


Make seasoning paste:

  1. Combine the seasoning paste ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Mix it well with a spoon. Set aside.mix seasoning paste

Make maeuntang:

  1. Combine the radish, dried anchovies, and 8 cups of water in a large pot.pour water
  2. Cover and cook for 20 minutes over medium high heat until the radish turns a little soft.
  3. Add the fish and about half of the seasoning paste.add fish
  4. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes over medium high heat until the fish is fully cooked.
  5. Remove the anchovy pouch and add green chili pepper and green onion. Taste the soup and add more paste if you want it spicier and saltier.
  6. Gently stir the stew a few times with a wooden spoon and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat and add the chrysanthemum greens and red chili peppers.


  1. Serve with rice, kimchi, and a few other side dishes, if you have them.
  2. You can put the stew in the middle of the table, with a ladle. Provide bowls for each person and ladle some of the stew into each bowl.
  3. Provide an empty bowl for bones. As people eat the fish they can discard the bones there.

Maeuntang (spicy fish stew)maeuntang bapsang


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  1. sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 251 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    My husband and I (both German) just love Korean food and culture, and our Korean isn’t to bad (his talking, my cooking ;-)).

    I really like your site (just prepared yeolmu kimchi today).

    I do wonder – why do you cook your fish that long?
    Whenever I prepare maeuntang or haemulchongol, I heat it all up until the fish and seafood (and dubu) are just done – that takes only a few minutes.

    Luckily, there is an excellent store for fresh fish and seafood nearby!

    Bye, sanne.

  2. JChim Australia joined 4/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi
    I’m interested in 매운탕.
    Just want to ask that any recommendation to subsitute red snapper
    because red snapper is a kind of expensive fish.
    Thank you

  3. Rodhatte Copenhagen-Denmark joined 12/13 & has 6 comments

    I have made this recipe three times now, with whatever fish, that was on offer at the store (after asking the guy behind the counter, what he would recommend for use in a soup). I make him filet the fish but keep the bones and the fish head, and just remove them along with the kelp.

    TIP! -Kelp (kobu) is a bit expencive here, so I DO NOT throw the kelp away! There’s still some good taste left in it!!! Instead I put it in the fridge and boil it again the next day or the day after, along with a small handful of dried anchovies, and a couple of dried shiitake mushrooms. Then I remove the anchovies and kelp. In the end, I add some doenjang or japanese miso along with whatever vegetables I happen to have in the kitchen that day. The mushrooms, I chop into small strips and add back in the soup.

    PS! -Thank you for doing this site. I’ve followed along on youtube for quite some time, and done a few of the recipes (mostly this one, and you kimchi recipes, that are much better than any other I have found on the net)… I’m very happy to FINALLY have come by your site as well… It is a very good site, and everything is so well maintained. I love it!

  4. kfishing United States joined 9/12 & has 4 comments

    Loved this soup! The broth was so good and had many layers of flavor!
    The only thing I changed was i didn’t add shrimp i added squid that I cleaned myself! If turned out so so good! Also i just wanted to share that in my grocery store the Ssukgat was called Crown Daisy.
    Thank You Maangchi!

  5. Kachie520 Vancouver, Canada joined 6/12 & has 5 comments

    I’ve just finished making this soup. It tastes great! I used the red snapper fillet instead of a whole fish, so it was very easy to make. Thank you, Maangchi! I love your recipe!!

  6. janicedale Australia joined 2/12 & has 16 comments

    This is a perfect recipe for me since I love spices. This recipe is also a healthy food because it contains fish, vegetables and other spices. We can actually add some oyster or other seafood. Thank you for sharing this recipe and I would love to share this to my family.Hope they would like spices too.

  7. ina78 Jerteh, Terengganu, Malaysia joined 4/09 & has 45 comments

    can I skip the cooking wine?

  8. mchung83 chicago joined 3/12 & has 1 comment

    Who needs to get married!??!? I have maangchi.com!

  9. Redrose Cheongju city south korea joined 2/12 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi I’m Rose, filipina and have a Korean husband! I’m happy to learn with your recipes it’s very easy to learn and my husband like my cook. I have a question I’d like to cook this meountang but I don’t have blender wat will I do to make the sauce of maeuntang and I dont have kelp! Please help me tnx keep up the good work

  10. jaylivg Houston joined 7/10 & has 107 comments

    Made this soup for dinner , it was delicious !!! I replaced minari with spinach and enoki mushroom with button mushroom . Everything turned out really good , we really enjoyed this soup , thank you Maangchi !!

  11. I made this last Wednesday, and it was banging…will def make this delicious dish again …Thanks so much (I cooked without kelp so dont know what it tastes like with it ^^)

  12. hi Maangchi unni,
    i live in the caribbean so i doubt i can find ssukgat and minari…can i sub those items with something else? maybe with celery and parsley? i don’t know…i really want to make this dish but i’m not sure if its possible without those herbs?

  13. Hi Maangchi! Just wanted to say thanks for your maeuntang recipe – my family really loved the soup although I did adapt your recipe according to availability of some of the ingredients but it still turned out great :) I also featured it on my blog since it was so yummy! (photos of the soup I made at link)


    Hope I did your recipe justice!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      yay, your maeuntang looks so delicious! “.. Gochujang is essentially made of red chilli powder, glutinous rice powder mixed with powdered fermented soybeans and salt.” It sounds like you know a lot about Korean cuisine! Let me twit about your maeuntang blog! : )

  14. Hello Maangchi. I LOVE your site. I love spicy food but my husband does not like spicy food. So I wanted to know if there is a way I can make this non spicy?? Thank you.

  15. annak727 los angeles/milano joined 6/10 & has 2 comments

    unni, when u get a chance, can you maybe add the recipe for the spicy crab soup (kot-gae-tang)? Do u use a similar sauce as maeuntang? thank u! ^^Y

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