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Amazing Summer Treats!
2016년 09월 01일 (목) 10:52:46 GLOBE globe@jbnu.ac.kr


Where did the summer go? I can't believe it's about to end. Summer makes me think of different treats like ice cream, iced or cold beverages, etc. These are refreshing and I love having them in the summer because it helps me beat the heat. This year’s temperatures in Korea are extreme for someone like me, who has never experienced a summer as hot as this one. Every summer, my routine is to drop by the coffee shop near Jinsudang for some refreshing drinks. A few weeks ago, while walking near the coffee shop, I came across this chicken soup advertised in a flyer. It’s called Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken soup).

This boiling hot soup is especially popular during sambok. These three hottest days of the summer, according to the lunar calendar, can be termed as chobok (beginning), jungbok (middle) and malbok (end). As the local saying goes, eating the hot soup is “이열치열,” which means “beating the heat with heat.” We often hear people saying,“아! 시원하다!” that means eating this soup “is refreshing.”

Samgyetang (삼계탕) is a chicken soup made with a small whole chicken (Cornish hen) and ginseng. The chicken is stuffed with rice (glutinous rice), garlic, ginger, and jujubes (dried red dates) are other common ingredients. Sometimes, other traditional herbs such as milk vetch roots (hwanggi, 황기) are added as well as chestnuts and ginkgo nuts. It’s an iconic and popular summer dish that Koreans eat to beat the heat and stay energized during the hottest time of the year.

Now let’s take a look at the name of this soup. Samgyetang is divided into three syllables: Sam refers to ginseng (insam, 인삼), gye is chicken, and tang is soup. Ginseng is highly prized for its medicinal benefits, including boosting energy and the immune system.

The whole chicken is served uncut as one serving, but it can easily be two servings. The soup is usually not seasoned while being cooked. It’s served with salt and pepper on the side, so each person can season the broth to taste and use the rest to dip the meat in. The ginseng flavored meat is tasty and tender, and the broth is rich and delicious. Also, the stuffed sticky rice that’s infused with the chicken and ginseng flavors is to die for. If you’re trying it for the first time, samgyetang will be nothing like any other chicken soup you’ve had before.

I can't believe how brilliant Koreans are when it comes to making food. There is always a reason for every dish that they serve in a different season which is surprisingly scientifically proven. Samgyetang is just one of them. As you might imagine, consuming a hot drink or food does add heat to your body, but that heat actually increases the rate at which you sweat, which can help cool you off. Of course, the sweat has to evaporate in order for you to feel cooler. Maybe that explains why Koreans say “it's refreshing” after eating Samgyetang.

When I first tasted this amazing chicken soup, it actually reminded me of a dish in my country. We call it Tinola. It is a chicken soup boiled with different ingredients, although we don't put ginseng in it. Well, ginseng in my country is not as famous as it is in Korea, and we serve the chicken cut, not whole. We eat it anytime we want since it's a comfort food that we enjoy all year round.

Now that summer is almost gone, I wonder if I could make this wonderful dish on my own. There are so many ingredients that make the cooking complicated, at least for me. Maybe I’ll head to the store later to look for the all-to-popular ready-made package to cook my own samgyetang.

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