(Korean Chicken & Ginseng Soup)
By Ellice Yang R.TCMP
On a hot summer’s day, you just want to have something to cool you down – what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Ice cream? Popsicle’s? A cold refreshing cup of iced tea? Nice crunchy bowl of salad? You would be surprised if I told you in Korean culture, none of those things are recommended. In fact, Samgye Tang – a steaming hot bowl of chicken and ginseng soup is the go-to on a hot hot summer’s day. Not just on any hot day but there are 3 designated hottest days of the year between July and August known as “Sambok:” Chobok if the first, 10 days later is Jungbok and 20 days after that is Malbok.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, most of the typical foods we often consume in the summer are very cold and damp in nature which can damage our Spleen/Stomach system. This organ system is responsible to take our food Qi and distribute the nutritive Qi to other parts of our body for nourishment and eliminate the waste that is not needed. In order for our Spleen/Stomach systems to work properly, it prefers dryness and warmth and dislike dampness and cold. So it makes sense that by eating a nutritious bowl of chicken and ginseng soup can help support and replenish our bodies after sweating and exhausting our energy on the hottest days of summer. You would be surprised how much cooler and refreshed you feel afterwards. Aside from ginseng and chicken (Cornish hen stuffed with glutinous rice), some other amazing ingredients used in Samgye Tang are garlic, jujube, milkvetch root (astragalus) and my mom would also include lycium (gogi berries).
Nowadays, this delicious soup has become such a fad that you can buy it in a Korean grocery store and you just pour the contents into a pot to heat up and it’s ready to eat! However, if you want to make this dish yourself here is a recipe from one of my favourite Korean Chefs @https://www.koreanbapsang.com/samgyetang/
4.32 from 48 votes
Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)
A classic Korean chicken soup made with a small, whole chicken and ginseng.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Korean
Keyword: chicken, cornish hen, ginseng, ginseng chicken soup, noodle soup, samgyetang
- 1 Cornish hen (about 1.5 to 2 pounds)
- 1 fresh ginseng root (or dried ginseng, rehydrated) See note 1
- 1//2 small onion Not in the photo but use it if available
- 3 tablespoons sweet rice (2 to 3 tablespoons more to boil with liquid if desired) — soaked for 1 hour (yields about 4 tablespoons soaked) – see note 2
- 5 – 6 plump garlic cloves
- 2 thin ginger slices (about 1 inch)
- 2 to 3 jujubes, daechu (대추)
- 1 scallion white part
- 5 to 6 cups of water (or good quality chicken stock)
- 2 scallions finely chopped, to garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- Clean the chicken. Do not cut off the neck and/or tail, if they are still attached. They help keep the rice inside the cavity. Place the cleaned chicken on a cutting board or a large plate. Clean the inside of the cavity with a paper towel to remove any blood. Fold the attached neck into the cavity to close the hole.
- Stuff the cavity with the sweet rice and a couple of garlic cloves, leaving room (about ¼ of the cavity) for the rice to expand as it cooks.
- To keep the rice inside the cavity while being cooked, use of one of these two methods: (1) Make a small cut through the thick skin part between one thigh and the cavity opening, but not too close to the edge. Then, use your finger to expand the hole enough to fit the end part of a leg. Bring the other leg over, and insert the end part through the hole to keep the legs crossed together, tucking the tail in to close the opening (see the photos above); or (2) Simply cross the legs and tie together with kitchen twine. Tightly close the cavity with a toothpick if necessary.
- In a medium size pot, place the chicken and add 5 to 6 cups (or enough to cover most of the chicken) of water or chicken stock. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, jujubes, and ginseng. If the chicken came with the neck that’s been cut off, add to the pot. Also add the extra sweet rice to thicken the soup, if using. Blend the extra soaked rice with a little bit of water for a creamier texture, if desired.
- Bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Skim off the foam on top. Cover, and boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and boil, covered, for about 25 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Turn the heat off and rest the chicken in the pot for about 10 minutes. See note 3.
- Serve piping hot with the chopped scallions and salt and pepper on the side so each person can season to taste.
- You can also use a samgyetang kit (commercially packaged dry ingredients for samgyetang). Follow the package instructions to prepare the dry ingredients to use in this recipe. Usually soaking is required.
- If you like chicken flavored sweet rice, soak more rice, put in a herb pouch and add to the pot to cook with the chicken.
- If you’re cooking 2 chickens, increase the second cooking time (over medium low) by 10 more minutes.