Samgyetang is a variety of guk or Korean soup, which primarily consists of a whole young chicken and Korean ginseng. The dish’s name literally translates as “‘ginseng chicken soup” in English. Samgyetang is traditionally served in the summer for its supposed nutrients, which replaces those lost through excessive sweating and physical exertion during the hot summers in Korea.
Preparation and serving
To make samgyetang, a whole young chicken is stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled in a broth of Korean ginseng, dried seeded jujube fruits, garlic, and ginger. Depending on the recipe, other medicinal herbs such as wolfberry (gugija), Codonopsis pilosula (dangsam), and Angelica sinensis (danggwi) may also be added.
Like chicken soup, which is thought to help common sicknesses in the West, it is widely believed in Korea that samgyetang can both cure and prevent physical ailments. Proteins, minerals, and hormones from the whole chicken mixed with the beneficial properties of the ingredients combined in the dish makes it a revered culinary item in South Korea. Only whole uncut ingredients are used for the dish, as they are believed to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients.
Many Koreans enjoy it on three specific days in summer: “Chobok”, “Jungbok” , and “Malbok” , which Koreans believe to be the hottest and most sultry of the year. Food with high nutrient content is eaten to regain the loss of stamina in the summer heat, and samgyetang is a favorite dish.
There are specialty restaurants in South Korea that serve nothing but samgyetang, having gained local popularity through their special recipe for the dish which are often kept secret. The dish is usually accompanied by side dishes and, in some restaurants, a small complimentary bottle of insamju (ginseng wine).
Heard about this dish from drama Which Stars Are You From? The female lead always nags Kim Rae Won for Samgyetang! Samgyetang! Even their engagement was done in a Samgyetang restaurant. All I know is, it supposes to be good for your health with ginseng and all. I’d seek out the dish because of this drama. Have to say, couldn’t finish the dish by myself because a whole chicken was served. It’s the dish that I haven’t ordered for quite sometimes, but looking at the pictures. My appetite now up 🙂