Chicken Ginseng Soup nourishes your body and soul. Koreans eat this dish in the beginning of summer to prepare for the hot weather. According to my mom, you gotta eat hot food (temperature. not spicy) to win over the hot weather. My friend Drew understands this wisdom and has requested recipe. We share a special memory of struggling to lift a bigger bird (turkey) to celebrate the Thanksgiving in a foreign land.
Speaking of turkey, I once heard a real life story of someone trying to cook Sam-gye-tang with a turkey…. Without going into details, I advise you not to attempt. Turkey is known for its “lean” meat. Have you ever heard of Turkey stock/broth? LOL
I used to be scared of cooking the whole chicken, but trust me, this is not so bad. First of all, we’re dealing with the “Cornish hen” which is half size of a normal chicken. Secondly, most of the dirty job is already done for you when you buy one in the supermarket – you’ll never see the giblets (gizzards and internal organs). Those are nicely wrapped in a plastic or paper bag inside the chicken’s tummy, which you can pull out and throw away. Or sometimes the bag of giblets could be entirely missing. When I first bought the whole chicken, I was looking for the bag for hours until I read the package label that said in bolded letters “giblets may be missing.” Regardless, if you’re still worried, try with a few drumsticks first. It should come out to be close enough :)
As long as you get down handling of the chicken, the rest of cooking straightforward. Garlic, ginseng, date and ginger are used to remove the “chicken odor” that I was talking about the other day (Spicy Chicken Stew). I love all of above herbs, but my hubby like it without ginseng, and you can adjust the ingredients according to your preference as well.
Serving Size: 1 person
Total Time: 1 hour prep time + 40 minutes cooking time
1 Cornish hen
½ cup of sweet rice (short glutinous rice)
10 cloves of garlic (or 1 entire bulb)
2 ginseng root (dried or fresh) (in-sahm 인삼)
2 chestnuts (dried or fresh)
6 dried dates (dae-choo 대추)
1 stalk of green onions
dried Kalopanax bark (Eom-namu 엄나무)
dried Astragalus herb (Hwang-gee 황기)
dried Siberian Ginseng herb (Ogamok 오가목)
dried kelp (dah-shi-ma 다시마)
Sweet rice – Rinse with cold water and soak under cold water for an hour.
Chestnuts – If you’re using dried chestnut like me, soak them with sweet rice. If using fresh ones, just clean and peel off the skins.
Garlic – I use the whole cloves. Remove skins and cut off the top.
Broth – More traditional and medically beneficial way is to use these dried herbs. Clean, add 4 cups of water, boil in a medium heat for 20+ minutes. If you’re using dried ginseng roots, add here and boil them together.
Most Korean supermarkets (like H-Mart and Lotte) sell these in a package shown in the picture above (this package says “baek-sook” in Korean which is another word for sam-gye-tang but the English translation in the package says “Dried Chinese Herb”).
Kalopanax Bark is beneficial for arthritis and also has anti-inflammatory effects. Astragalus is an immune system booster, and Siberian Ginseng improves vitality.
Alternatively, if you don’t have these herbs, you can use Dashi broth (using dried kelp) or just water.
Cornish Hen Prep
a. First, thaw the frozen chicken and then clean with cold water
b. Remove giblets in a bag inside the chicken’s tummy
c. Chop off the wings (picture with scissors) and tail (picture with scissors pointing). Tail has the most amount of fat.
d. Remove skin
e. Stuff loosely 3 table spoons of sweet rice (after soaked in water for an hour), 3-4 garlic cloves, 2 dates and 2 chestnuts. Do not stuff too much and leave some room
f. Close the tummy entrance with toothpick, and cross and secure the legs with toothpick as well. You can use other means.. like silicon band or thread.
1. Transfer the prepared chicken into a thick pot (I use clay pot. Preferably, use a pot that retains heat well like casting iron pot). Add the remaining sweet rice, ginseng, garlic cloves, and dates.
2. Add broth (herb broth, dashi broth or water) to almost cover the whole chicken. The entire chicken does not have to submerge under broth.
3. Boil in a high heat for 15 minutes. Remove fat scum and foams as necessary. Then lower the heat to medium for another 30-40 minutes. Stir the bottom of pot gently to prevent the rice to stick to the bottom. You may need to add water if the broth gets reduced too much.
4. Garnish with green onions and serve with salt and pepper. Enjoy!