Samgyetang (Korean Style Chicken Soup With Ginseng)


Chicken soup is one of those irreplaceable things in our lives. Some people see it as a comfort food, while others as a remedy for lots of things ranging from influenza to heartache,  but one way or another, it is an important food for almost everyone. And like many dishes we have come to know and love, it has a variation in Korean cuisine, which is called Samgyetang.

Samgyetang(삼계탕) is basically a chicken soup made with a whole young chicken, garlic, rice, jujube, some spices, and Korean ginseng.  It is a thick and flavory soup and has a refreshing effect.

This may sound strange, as having chicken soup is among most people’s favorite ways of battling the cold, but Samgyetang is usually eaten on hot summer days in Korea. Actually, it is especially enjoyed on Sambok (삼복) days -three distinct days on the lunar calendar: Chobok (초복), Jungbok (중복), and Malbok (말복)- which are among the hottest days of summer. Koreans use this soup to keep their energy during those hot and sultry days. There is even a Korean saying that describes eating the hot soup on summers as fighting the heat with heat.

You can find several specialty restaurants in South Korea, which never serve anything else than samgyetang. They have special recipes for the dish, and -as you would expect- they keep their recipes secret.

Samgyetang is one of those dishes that you can prepare easily at home. It is also a “less eccentric” dish, compared to many other Korean dishes so it may be a nice choice as an introduction to Korean soups, or Korean cuisine in general. Of course, eating a whole chicken may be difficult for just one person, but I think one bowl of this can be shared by two people.

Samgyetang Gallery

Main ingredients: A young whole chicken, garlic, spices, korean ginseng

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Photo: Marvin Lee

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