Samgyetang means ginseng (kor. insam) – chicken (kor. gye) – soup (kor. tang). It consists primarily of a whole young chicken (poussin) – filled with garlic and rice and flavored with scallion and herbs, among them jujube and Korean ginseng.
Samgyetang is a hot soup for hot summer days. It is especially popular to eat this chicken soup on sambok (삼복) days, which are three distinct days of the lunar calendar — Chobok (초복), Jungbok (중복), and Malbok (말복) – which are commonly among the hottest and most sultry days in Korea. It is believed to eat the soup three times in this period is good for your health.
Some specialty restaurants in South Korea serve nothing but samgyetang, having gained local popularity through their special recipes for the dish, which are often kept as secrets. The dish is usually accompanied by side dishes and, in some restaurants, a small complimentary bottle of insamju (ginseng wine).
The following recipe is a richer, healthier, and more flavorful version of the traditional Korean chicken ginseng soup. The cooking method for this samgyetang differs dramatically from others in that a crock pot is used.
The crockpot allows the herbs to soak and cook at a lower temperature, which preserves the goodness of the ginseng, gingko, and jujubes, rather than a quick, furious boil, which destroys the nutrients and doesn’t provide time for the herbs to permeate the broth. The crockpot also allows for long cooking time without long watching time.
Citizens, this is a very special recipe and I hope you enjoy it! 🙂
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- 3 quarts of water
- 3 cups/15 large jujube dates (dae-choo 대추)
- ½ cup goji berries
- 3 large fresh ginseng roots/2 dried ginseng roots>5 years (in-sahm 인삼)
- 1 piece dried Kalopanax bark (Eom-namu 엄나무) (optional)
- 2 pieces dried Astragalus herb (Hwang-gee 황기) (optional)
- Kalopanax Bark is beneficial for arthritis and also has anti-inflammatory effects. Astragalus is an immune system booster
- 2 organic rock Cornish game hens
- 6 garlic cloves
- ¾ cup glutinous sweet rice (use short-grain regular rice if sweet rice is unavailable)
- ¼ cup goji berries
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt
- Ginseng Chicken Soup:
- Herbal Broth, previously prepared
- 2 stuffed rock Cornish game hens
- 2 cups/10 raw chestnuts – be very careful when peeling the chestnuts!
- ⅔ cup gingko nuts
- 2 cups of jujube dates
- 2 tsp of sea salt
- Place all the ingredients in a 6-quart Rival crock pot and cook on low for ten hours.
- Strain the herbal broth through a sieve.
- Pour the herbal broth back into the crock pot and discard the scraps.
- Sweet Rice Stuffing:
- When picking your chicken or hen, make sure the poultry’s skin is pale, spot-free and resilient. What you stuff inside your bird may vary. Some recipes stuff ginseng directly into the chicken. If you are using fresh ginseng, you may add a bit of fresh ginseng in the stuffing mix; however, I believe the ginseng is most efficacious steeping in the broth. If you are using two birds, divide the stuffing materials accordingly.
- Soak the sweet rice for 1-2 hours, drain, and set aside.
- Wash and clean the inside of the game hens.
- Sew-up the neck end of the game hens.
- Stuff a clove of garlic into the neck end from the tail end.
- Lightly salt the inside of the game hens, reserving a tiny pinch of salt for the rice stuffing mix.
- Line the rest of the garlic cloves against the ribs of the game hens.
- Mix the sweet rice with goji berries, toasted sesame seeds, cracked black pepper, and pinch of salt. Stuff the rice mixture into the game hens.
- Sew-up the game hens.
- Peel the chestnuts.
- Shell the gingko nuts.
- Place the stuffed organic game hens, chestnuts, gingko nuts, dates, and salt into the prepared herbal broth.
- Set the crock pot to cook on high for six hours. Your Samgyetang is then cooked and ready to serve!
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