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LifestyleFood and Drink
Fighting heat with heat on the hottest days of the yearThis week’s recipe: Samgyetang, ginseng chicken soup
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승인 2011.07.11  13:37:50
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1 small chicken, about 500g
3-4 cloves of garlic
1-2 small fresh* ginseng roots
* When buying ginseng for samgyetang, avoid purchasing it dried. It will not soften when you boil it, making it impossible to eat.
2-3 jujubes
¼ cup glutinous rice
2 cups of water

1. Soak rice in water for 1 hour. Also soak an earthen pot in water for about an hour before putting it directly onto the flame.
2. Wash and rinse chicken in cold running water. Remove the skin and discard.
3. Stuff the chicken with the rice, ginseng root, jujubes, and garlic.
4. Place stuffed chicken in the earthen stone pot. If you do not have a stone pot, use a medium pot on a normal burner.
5. Pour water into the pot, cover and boil on medium to high heat for 20 minutes. When it starts boiling, skim off any foam and fat that rises to the surface and discard.
6. Continue to boil for another 40 minutes.
7. When cooked properly, the chicken will easily pull right off of the bone.
8. Serve with salt and pepper
Serves 1-2 people

It is hard to imagine eating piping hot soup on not just a hot day, but especially on the hottest days of the year — yet in Korea this is a tradition. Samgyetang is a favorite summer dish. Samgyetang translated into English is Chicken ginseng soup. It is cooked in a tukbaege (stone pot) and served still bubbling in the same. The theory is to fight heat with heat, and ginseng is believed to give people stamina and help prevent heat exhaustion. Koreans depend on the lunar calendar to determine the dates of the three hottest days. This year they are slated to be July 14 “Chobok” (초복), July 24 “Jungbok” (중복) and August 13 “Malbok” (말복).

The root of Panax ginseng (commonly known as ginseng), has been used in Asia — especially China and Korea — for more than 5,000 years. This is owing to the belief that it is a tonic and panacea (cure-all) that can promote longevity. Its efficacy was first documented in the “Shen Nung Pen Ts’ao Ching” (Divine Husbandman’s Classic of Materia Medica), an herbal compendium published in the 5th century AD, which states: “Ginseng tastes sweet, and its property is slightly cooling. It grows in the gorges of the mountains. It is used for repairing the five viscera, quieting the spirit, curbing the emotion, stopping agitation, removing noxious influence, brightening the eyes, enlightening the mind, and increasing the wisdom. Continuous use leads one to longevity with light weight .”(1)

Recent studies have shown that Panax ginseng has “photochemical ginsenosides.” These compounds are almost exclusively found only in ginseng, and testing has determined that they have advantageous health properties such as being anti-carcinogenic (prevention against some cancers), immune-modulators (boosting the immune system), anti-inflammatory (helping in diseases such as colitis), anti-allergic (preventing or relieving allergies), and anti-atherosclerotic (helps to prevent cardiovascular disease). They have also been shown to be anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic and anti-stress (regarding the nervous system). (2)

1. Yuan S. Chang, et al. Panax ginseng: A role in cancer therapy. Integr Cancer Ther 2003; 2;13
2. Christensen LP. Ginsenoside chemistry biosynthesis, analysis and potential health effects. Adv Food Nutr Research 2009; 55:1-99

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