The name 淡菜 would suggest a meaning like "bland vegetable" or something like that. Why are mussels called 淡菜?

up vote 4 down vote accepted

淡菜 is only the name for dried mussels or dried sea mussels.

汉语大词典's entry for 淡菜 says:

贻贝的肉经烧煮曝洒而成的干制食品。味佳美, 以煮晒时不加盐, 故名。

So 淡 comes from the fact that 不加盐 (salt is not added).

菜 must be for the fact that it is a dish and not because it is a vegetable.

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