Chicken & Ginseng Soup 삼계탕 sam-gye-tang


We’re on the recovery end of our sickness now (seasonal cold/flu) with the help along from soups and spicy food. Tonight for dinner we had Korea’s delicious ‘well-being’ soup sam-gye-tang. sam-삼 meaning ginseng, gye-계 meaning chicken and  tang-탕 meaning soup. I hate getting sick in Korea; as soon as a sniffle starts, the mother- in- law proclaims I must eat a lot of ginseng to boost the immunities. It’s known for revitalising the body by increasing the body temp and metabolism.* Not growing up on ginseng root, the taste is overwhelmingly bitter in my mouth and I feel like that guy from “Without a Paddle” when the bear feeds him the dead possum.


Watch from 3:10 to get a true sense of what I’m feeling. Luckily for me though, my mother- in- law is no bear by any means and likes to make sure I’m fit and full at all times.

Story time from Bobby:

 “Back in the day, people were not rich enough to have meat everyday. So they had specific days that they have to eat their meat. It’s fighting fire with fire and they overcame the hot weather with that soup. I think after they eat the full chicken they be feel stronger. Just think you are vegetarian and only eating veges and herbs and one day you eat the chicken you must be feel stronger, isnt it?”

This soup is eaten during the three hottest days of summer by Koreans to help cool them down. 초복 cho-bok meaning beginning of the hot days, 중복 chung-bok meaning middle/ second hot day and  말복 mal-bok meaning the end/last hot day of summer.

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/FO/FO_EN_6_5_2_2.jsp This link has a nice story and recipe for sam-gye-tang, although Bobby’s mum made hers with a regular chicken, sprinkled with pine nuts and served the rice separately. The meat is served on the bone, ripped off and dipped in salt. The contrasting textures of the garlic and pine nuts with the salty broth is my favourite part of the dish.

DSC04765 DSC04768

If you’d like to try making it and you’re in Korea, all the shops stock dried sam-gye-tang packs. If you live overseas try and find a Korean shop near you or order the samgyetang packs (dried ginseng, jujube and asian herbs) online.

Admittedly after eating the soup and for hours after, I felt re-energised and stopped hobbling around. Was it the ginseng soup or my meds? I’d like to say the ginseng 😉

Happy eating – Chan and Bob

*Do not eat this if you have high blood pressure or high body temperature*

오늘 저녁으로 어머니께서 삼계탕을 해주셨습니다. 쉔텔이 일주일 내내 감기로 고생하기 때문이죠. 한국인의 보양식중 가장 보편적인 삼계탕, 삼의 기운인지 제 와이프도 감기를 훌훌 털고 일어났습니다. 그야 말로 정말 보양식이었네요. 초복, 중복, 말복에도 우리 한국인들은 삼계탕을 많이 찾습니다. 한여름중 엄청 더운 날을 우리는 초복, 중복, 말복 이라고 부르는데요, 이 더운날을 정해 보양식을 먹습니다. 옛날에는 요즘처럼 고기를 항상 구경하는 것이 아니기 때문에 특별 한 날에만 고기를 먹었다고 합니다. 초중말복은 그 중에서도 허해진 몸을 더위로 부터 이겨내기 위해 고기를 먹는 날 입니다. 한국에서는 개고기를 먹기도 하고 삼계탕을 먹기도 합니다. 특히나 나이가 어느정도 있으신 분들이 이런걸 많이 챙기시고 요즘 젊은 사람들은 그다지 초,중,말복을 챙기는 분위기는 아닙니다.

만들기도 무지 쉽습니다. 깨끗하게 씻은 닭을 인삼, 대추, 마늘, 소금 약간을 넣고 잘 삶으면 끝이에요.(소금의 양은 기호에 따라 넣어주세요.) 마트에 가면 삼계탕 팩이라고 그 한 팩에 재료가 다 들어있는걸 팔기도 합니다. 그러니 팩과 닭만 사서 끓이면 끝입니다. 한가지 팁이 있습니다. 기름진걸 좋아하시지 않는 분은 닭을 따로 물에 삶아서 기름기를 빼준뒤 새 냄비에 재료들과 함께 물에 다시 삶아주면 보다 깔끔한 맛을 낼 수 있습니다.

맛도 좋고 건강에도 좋은 삼계탕 여러분도 맛 보세요.^^


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