In the summertime, we can often see streams of people queuing up around samgyetang restaurants, especially during the three -bok days in the heart of summer: Chobok (초복, 初伏), Jungbok (중복, 中伏) and Malbok (말복, 末伏). This year they fall on July 17, July 27 and Aug. 16, respectively. Despite the heat wave, people are willing to wait their turn to eat one special summer specialty in particular: Samgyetang.
Samgyetang is a dish made with a young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, ginseng, jujubes and garlic, and boiled in water with milk vetch roots. It’s the best-known summer dish and it’s said to give you a boost in energy. Samgyetang makes people feel hotter and makes them sweat in order to ward off the heat. By eating this dish, people can get more energy and prevent exhaustion during the scorching heat waves of summer.
The two main ingredients, chicken and ginseng, warm the inside of the body and complement nutritional elements that could easily be lacking during the summer. Chicken is rich in protein, good for the digestion and relieves tiredness and stress. When consumed with ginseng, it boosts the appetite and enhances the immune system. Young chicken in particular, the type of chicken most commonly used in Samgyetang, has tender skin and meat, which creates a wonderful aroma. Other ingredients, such as the milk vetch root and garlic, also help to protect the internal organs and help to recover one’s strength to better cope with the heat. Glutinous rice also helps with digestion.
Hong Si-wan, Seoul