> Korean Food top10 > Samgyetang > Introduction
Samgyetang has long been the most favored invigorating
food of Korea, particularly in summer. The food is
cooked by putting glutinous rice, ginseng, jujube and garlic
into the inside of chicken and boiling them fully.
There are 24 subdivisions of the seasons in lunar calendar,
and among the subdivisions, 'early Bok,' 'middle Bok,' and
'late Bok' come during June ~ July.
They are called 'three Boks,' covering the hottest days
in Korea. During those periods, people shed sweats
heavily and lose appetite, thus easily falling into nutrition
deficiency. To overcome the sultry season, Korean
ancestors had cooked and enjoyed samgyetang since the early
days, and the tradition has been continued till now.
In the beginning the food was cooked by boiling young chicken,
which was called 'Yeonggye baeksuk' (young chicken boiled
in plain water). Later, ginseng was added and the
name changed to 'Gyesamtang' (chicken ginseng soup), which
was again changed into the present name of 'Samgyetang.'
The book 'Seoul Encyclopedia' explains in detail the process
of name change;
"Gyesamtang is a food stimulating appetite and supplying
nutrition, cooked by fully boiling chicken added with ginseng.
Cut the belly of chicken, put ginseng inside it and thread
the incised part. Among special dishes taken in summer,
this food was normally enjoyed by people better off than
those who ate dog soup. Its name had long been called
'Gyesamtang,' but later when ginseng became popularized
and its value appreciated even by foreigners, the name has
changed into 'Samgyetang' with ginseng as the first syllable."
Like beef, chicken does not have fat in its sinew fiber.
It is a high-protein food smoothly digested and absorbed
into human body. Mixed in harmony with the medicinally-effective
ginseng as well as glutinous rice, chestnut and jujubes,
it produces balanced nutrition, and thus it is reckoned
as an excellent stamina food.
Chicken is a high-protein food with less fat and better
digestion compared with beef or pork. The protein
created by chicken has excellent quality, and its fat acid
contains linoleic acid which is effective in preventing
adult diseases. Chicken is also a desirable cuisine
for the elderly and patients as it contains a lot of vitamin
A, B1, B2 and niacin.
The indigenous hens in Korea are comparatively small-sized,
with the fully-grown one no bigger than large foreign chick.
They hatch twice a year, normally 15~20 chicks one time.
The indigenous hens are raised not being cooped up but left
free in the garden, so they eat more natural feed and are
more active than ordinary chicks. As a result, their
meats are solid, blackish red, tasty and sticky.
Putting various herbs (which are recognized as Oriental
medicine) into cooking has become popular recently in Korea.
In line with this trend, chickens are sometimes boiled with
milk vetch and lacquer plant. Special dish cooked
by stuffing various herbs into chicken belly is offered
at a higher price. In raising poultry, organic feeds
made by fermenting plants, or special feeds added with mugwort
and seaweed, have come to be used instead of the conventional
Samgyetang, an excellent food for recovering stamina in summer
Samgyetang is a traditional dish of Korea which is useful
in recovering physical strength in summer. It is cooked
by fully boiling chicken added with ginseng. To be
particular, glutinous rice, garlic and jujube are wrapped
in an edible cloth and put into vacated belly of chicken,
and, after pouring enough water, they are boiled in a pot
or kettle for a long time. When the contents are well
done, they will be picked up and served on a dish.
As a diversion of samgyetang, ginseng is wrapped in a cloth,
put into soup and boiled sufficiently until ginseng components
are soaked into the soup, and then the soup can be drunk
up after seasoning with salt. As another diversion,
seasoned meat can be put into soup to be taken with the
Those who are losing appetite, suffering chronic fatigue
or shedding much perspiration can obtain remarkable nutritious
effect from samgyetang. The exhausted physical strength
in summer can be regained by taking the food.
Chicken which is a source of rich protein and essential
amino acid, and ginseng which has been recognized as a wonder
drug since the old days, are combined into samgyetang.
The combination is further reinforced by the nutritious
effects of glutinous rice, chestnut and jujube. Thus,
the food could retain balanced nutrition.
'Dongeuibogam,' the famous old medical book of Korea, writes
that "Of the ingredients of samgyetang, ginseng strengthens
the function of heart and garlic gives the tonic effect.
Moreover, chestnut and jujube protect stomach and prevent
anemia while pumpkin seeds exterminate parasites."