Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Samgyetang - Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup

     The Traditional Korean Cure All! 
     Samgyetang is a traditional Korean soup that has medicinal value!  This soup is usually served during the summer season, but it is great for chilly weather too.  During warm weather Samgyetang is like a tonic that increases stamina.  During the winter, this medicinal soup helps to fight off the common cold or flu.
     It seems like every culture around the globe has a chicken soup recipe that has a reputation for being a cold remedy.  Chicken Broth cold remedies are far from just merely being an old wive's tale.  Scientific studies show that the broth from one whole chicken will substantially boost the immune system enough to help conquer the common cold.

     Of all the chicken broth soup cold remedies in the world, Korean Samgyetang has to be at the top of the list for many reasons.  For a start, one whole young chicken is used to make one serving of this soup, so the chicken broth dosage level is absolutely correct.  The whole small chicken is stuffed with just the right amount of sticky rice.  The rice and chicken meat provide necessary proteins and slow acting carbohydrates that give the body enough long lasting energy to fight off illness.  As one can see, the basic elements of this Korean "cure all" soup are well founded.
     For a really bad cold or flu, it takes more than just chicken, broth and rice to get over the illness.  This is where a little bit of Asian medicinal food knowledge comes in handy.  To some folks, the medicinal ingredients in a Samgyetang might seem exotic, but every item in this recipe can be found in the average Asian food market.
     Ginseng is one of the most important Samgyetang ingredients.  Fresh Korean Ginseng, dried ginseng of nearly any kind and little jars of wine that contain whole ginseng root, all sell for a nice price at Asian food markets.  Ginseng is a strong antioxidant that also acts as a blood thinner that improves circulation.  Ginseng helps to tone the body and mind, while ridding the body of toxins.
     Garlic acts as a blood thinner and it helps to boost immune system response.  Strong aromatic fresh garlic is best for making Samgyetang.
     Fresh Ginkgo Nuts are an essential Samgyetang ingredient, because this medicinal nut is an effective immune system booster and it is a very strong antioxidant.  Eating 5 or 6 fresh Ginkgo Nuts will result in a charged up feeling that can be compared to taking strong cold pills from the old days.  Sinuses dry out and the lungs take in air more freely.  Cryovac packaged peeled fresh Ginkgo Nuts are available in nearly any Asian market.
     Korean Red Dates (Jujube) can be found as a dried fruit product at any Asian market.  Pitted Dried Korean Red Dates are easy to work with and it only takes about 15 minutes of simmering till they fully reconstitute.  Jujube are a rich source of vitamins and natural sugar.  Jujube also have an antioxidant effect.
     Egg Yolks also boost immune system response and the protein in egg whites promote fast recovery from illness.  Both the chicken and the egg work together in Samgyetang.

     Judging by the ingredients, Samgyetang by far is the best chicken soup cure for the common cold.  Now the question is, what is the best Samgyetang recipe?  The answer is, nobody knows!  This is because many Samgyetang recipes are an ancient family secret.
     Samgyetang is so popular in Korea, that there actually are restaurants that only sell Samgyetang and nothing else.  Each chef adds their own medicinal food knowledge to the basic Samgyetang recipe.  Even though all Samgyetang may look alike, no two recipes are exactly the same.  One might say that Samgyetang is tailor made for the medicinal needs of the individual guest!

     Korean Red Dates (Jujube):
     Place 8 dried pitted Korean Red Dates in a small sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the dates.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Simmer till the red dates are soft and reconstituted.
     Remove the red dates from the liquid and set them aside.

     Sticky Rice Stuffing:
     This recipe yields a little more than what is needed to stuff 1 small chicken.
     Step 1:  Boil 1 1/2 cups of water in a small sauce pot.
     Add 3/4 cup of Sticky Rice.
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Place a lid on the pot.
     Simmer and steam for about 20 minutes, till the Sticky Rice is fully cooked.
     Take the pot off of the heat and let the Sticky Rice cool.        
     Step 3:  Place the Sticky Rice in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin sliced ginseng root.
     Add 1 thin sliced small shallot.
     Add 3 chopped Korean red dates.
     Add 4 chopped shelled fresh gingko nuts.
     Mix the stuffing ingredients together and set it aside.
     This recipe yields 1 large bowl of broth soup with a whole small chicken.  (This is exactly what the doctor ordered!)  
     Step 1:  Select a small whole young chicken (1 pound or less) or a Cornish Game Hen.  (Cornish Game Hen was used to make the Samgyetang in the photos.)
     Stuff the cavity of the small chicken with the rice stuffing mixture.
     Use a bamboo skewer to seal the cavity opening shut, so the rice stuffing is sealed inside.
     Step 2:  Select a pot that is just a little bit wider than the chicken.
     Add 3 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1 teaspoon of shopped garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Korean style Coarse Red Chile Paste (sambal).
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Boil the broth for 5 minutes.
     Step 4:  Place the stuffed chicken in the hot broth.
     The broth should almost cover the chicken.  Add water if necessary.
     Add 5 large bite size pieces of ginseng root.
     Add 3 coarsly chopped fresh gingko nuts.
     Add 5 of the prepared Korean Red Dates.
     Add 4 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 5:  Bring the broth back to a boil over medium high heat.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Place a lid on the pot.
     Simmer the soup till the chicken is fully cooked and the meat can easily be pulled from the bones with chopsticks.  (About 1 hour.)
     Turn the chicken over in the broth every once in a while.  Add water if necessary.
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat.
     Step 7:  Separate the yolk and white of 1 large egg into 2 separate bowls.
     Whisk the egg white till it just starts to foam.
     Briefly whisk the egg yolk.
     Step 8:  Heat a non-stick small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Pour the egg white on one side of the pan.
     Pour the egg yolk on the other side of the pan.  (Use a rubber spatula to get every last bit out of each bowl.)
     Gently pan fry the egg yolk and egg white till they are fully cooked on both sides.  Try not to brown the egg!
     Step 9:  Place the fried egg yolk and egg white on a cutting board.
     Slice the egg into thin strips.
     Step 10:  Place the stuffed cooked chicken in a large soup bowl.
     Remove the bamboo skewer.
     Step 11:  Pour all of the broth into the soup bowl.
     Add 3 large bite size pieces of green onion to the broth.
     Step 12:  Drape the strips of fried egg white and egg yolk over the chicken in the soup bowl.
     Sprinkle 1 thin bias sliced green onion over the egg strips.

     Samgyetang not only is Korean style cold medicine ... this soup looks good and tastes great!

1 comment:

  1. Good sharing. Ginseng is used in traditional and herbal medicine to improve energy levels and concentration. Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer is one of the most well-studied species of ginseng with more than 70 published papers citing its various health promoting benefits. Read more at: