Looking for an easy and delicious way to liven up your next meal? Try making Korean mussel soup – Honghap Tang! This light and refreshing dish is made with fresh mussels, green onions, garlic, and salt, and is popular in Korea, especially as a side dish to Korean alcohol, soju. Follow the steps below to create your own delicious Korean mussel soup.
What is Korean Mussel Soup
Mussels are a type of shellfish that are commonly used in Korean cooking, especially in mussel soup or mussel stew. They are relatively cheap and easy to find, but they take a bit of effort to clean. During those periods between late fall and early spring, you will be able to enjoy the most delicious mussels in Korean soup.
Korean mussel soup (Honghap-Tang, 홍합탕) is light and refreshing. It is best known for its rich and flavorful milky broth. To make the mussel soup, fresh mussels are cooked with green onions, sliced garlic, and salt in water. This dish is one of the most popular side dishes to Korean alcohol, soju.
My Best Cooking Tips
Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for perfect Korean mussel soup.
- You will need to buy mussels with shells to produce the broth and the soup. Frozen mussels especially without shells won’t work quite the same way in this recipe. The mussels I bought are below – fresh blue mussels from a seafood house.
- One of the highlights of Korean mussel soup is its clean taste. To achieve this, mussels should be washed thoroughly, including removing the beards to maintain its flavor. More tips on cleaning will follow in the post below.
- Instead of using minced garlic, use sliced garlic. You could also use a disposable filter bag to put all your aromatic vegetables so that it is easy to discard once all the flavor has come out. This will help with creating the soup that’s clear and smooth to swallow.
- If you want to make the soup spicy, add some sliced chilies at the end. But don’t use Thai chilies as the flavor profile doesn’t mix well with this soup. Korean Cheongyang chili pepper (청양고추) would suit the best. That being said, I personally prefer this soup without any chili, so I can enjoy the mild, refreshing taste of the soup. Chilies can change the taste profile quite significantly, even with a small amount.
How to Clean Mussels
As I mentioned earlier, cleaning mussels is the most important step in making delicious, clean tasting soup. Read along for my suggestions.
1. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from broken shells. Add the mussels to a large bowl and run cold water over them. Throw away any shells that are broken or are cracked, then rinse the mussels thoroughly.
2. In running water, use another mussel shell to scrub the mussel shells clean of debris or seaweed. Be careful not to break the shells by using too much pressure while scrubbing. If there are any byssus threads (known as beards), grasp them firmly and pull towards the shell hinge until they come out.
3. Place all the cleaned mussels in a new bowl and rinse one more time with cold running water.
How to Store Mussels
If you have some fresh mussels that have already been cleaned following the steps above but not needing them for this soup, I suggest you steam them and then freeze them in a vacuum-sealed bag. They are best used within 2 to 3 months.
Then, I sometimes add these to my instant ramen noodles to elaborate the flavor, and it goes wonderfully. You can also add in any other dishes of your choice.
Other Korean Soup Recipes You Might Like
Traditionally, bowls of soup and stew have been a staple of Korean cuisine. They’re typically served at every meal, so there’s an abundance of this type of food. Try some of the most popular Korean soup recipes from below!
- Yukgaejang (Spicy Beef Soup)
- Sundubu Jjigae (Spicy Soft Tofu Stew)
- Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Stew)
- Fish Cake Soup
Ingredients for Korean Mussel Soup
- 1 kg / 35 ounces shelled mussels, cleaned
- 1 green onion, white part
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 7 cups water
- 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp fine salt
- (Optional) chilies, green or red, thinly sliced and seeds removed, for garnish
* 1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml
How To Make Korean Mussel Soup
1. In a large pot, add the mussels, green onions, garlic cloves, and water. Cook over medium-high heat until the mussels are fully cooked. (Mussels will open their shells once done. It takes 10 to 15 minutes. Discard any mussels that did not open.) Skim off any scum that forms.
2. Remove the green onion and garlic from the soup and add the white vinegar and salt.
3. Garnish the soup with chili peppers (optional), and serve it with steamed rice and other Korean side dishes. You can also serve this as a drinking snack with soju.
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Korean Mussel Stew (Honghap-Tang)
- 1 kg shelled mussels (35 ounces), cleaned
- 1 green onion , white part
- 1 garlic clove , thinly sliced
- 7 cups water
- 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tsp fine salt
- chilies (optional), green or red, thinly sliced and seeds removed, for garnish
- In a large pot, add the mussels, green onions, garlic cloves, and water. Cook over medium-high heat until the mussels are fully cooked. (Mussels will open their shells once done. It takes 10 to 15 minutes. Discard any mussels that did not open.) Skim off any scum that forms
- Remove the green onion and garlic from the soup and add the white vinegar and salt.
- Garnish the soup with chili peppers (optional), and serve it with steamed rice and other Korean side dishes. You can also serve this as a drinking snack with soju.
- 1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml
Nutrition Info (per serving)
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.