For many non-Koreans, samgyetang poses a bit of a riddle. Why is a steaming hot chicken-and-rice soup eaten primarily in the hot and humid summer months? The answer rests not in the chicken but in the medicinal herbs that the dish is famous for. The idea is that during the sleepy summer months, people are in need of an energy boost—which ginseng and astragalus both provide, and which, to us, makes this soup a really delicious and fortifying recipe with interesting, aromatic, bittersweet flavors. Find a fresh young chicken or Cornish game hen and stuff it with sweet rice, Korean dates, chestnuts and the herbs. Cook it in the best possible chicken stock you can make or buy. Samgyetang is healthy and clean and might just be the answer the next time you need a pick- me-up, in summer or winter.
This recipe comes from Koreatown: A Cookbook (Clarkson Potter). Photo by Lizzie Munro.
- Wash the rice and cover it with cold water for 30 minutes. Drain.
- Rinse the chicken thoroughly in cold water. Stuff its cavity with the rice, 5 cloves of garlic, 2 jujubes, the chestnuts, the ginseng, and half the ginger. Set aside.
- In a heavy stockpot, combine 5 cloves of garlic, 2 jujubes, the remain- ing ginger, astragalus root, scallion white and chicken stock. Place the chicken in the center of the pot. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately turn it down to low. Cover the pot with the lid and gently simmer for 1 hour.
- When nished cooking, season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, halve the chicken lengthwise, return it to the broth and garnish with the sliced scallion.
Reprinted with permission from Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard, copyright © 2016, published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright © 2016 by Sam Horine.