Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Samgyetang. Ginseng chicken soup.

Samgyetang (삼계탕) is a delicious hot ginseng chicken soup very popular in Korea during the summer, especially on bok days (복날 translated as dog days).
The bok days are the three hottest days according to the lunar calendar.
Chobok: 초복 (begginning)
Chungbok: 중복 (middle)
Malbok: 말복 (end)

Samgyetang is often eaten for its health benefits and supposed internal cooling. I know! In America we think cold cold cold when it's hot whereas Koreans think just the opposite! Battle fire with fire, they say! When your body is hot, your blood pools at the surface of your body for cooling. That often leaves the stomach and internal organs without proper circulation and  weaker digestion. By eating a hot healthy soup, your body not only gets nutrients but the proper cooling and circulation it needs.
In the past, dog was the meat of choice in the soup during those hot days. Chicken or samgyetang is the most common meal of choice now. It is traditionally eaten on these three days as a way to rest after a long days work and replenish the body with nutrients and energy.  It is tasty and rejuvenating.

For 2013 the bok or dog days fall on:

Chobok: July 13
Jungbok: July 23
Malbok: Aug 12

Samgyetang is a soup made with a whole chicken stuffed with rice, garlic, ginseng, ginger, and jujubes (dates). It is cooked and placed in a broth made for samgyetang. The broth comes in variations with salt and more spices or even creamy milky-like mixes and flavors while other times it is allowed to take on the flavors of the tasty stuffed chicken. A simple broth that soaks the flavors of the chicken is my favorite!

I made a new Korean friend in San Diego and in honor of Chobok we went on a journey to find samgyetang.  We found this delightful dish at "Old Village" Korean BBQ Restaurant on Convoy St in San Diego. I believe it costs $16.99 for one bowl.Believe me, it is worth every penny and I would go back for more! It tasted fabulous! Even my friend said there was no difference in taste and feeling from the samgyetang eaten in Korea.

I felt a little uneasy and queasy that day, but after eating the soup my stomach felt calm, satiated, and satisfied. I was happier and had more energy to take on the next day!  Old Village Korean restaurant has a lot of other varieties of good traditional flavors and Korean foods that you may also consider trying, if your stomach doesn't favor this ginseng chicken soup!

I hope you will taste your way to some samgyetang this summer. I'm ready for more. There are a few days left of summer. Rest and enjoy!!