Friday, April 11, 2008

Samgyetang ~ Ginseng Chicken Soup

Our first encounter with this dish was two years ago, at a Korean restaurant along Londsdale Street in Melbourne. My brother Roger strongly recommended this dish and it was really worth the every cent we paid for. For less than AUD18/MYR 50, we actually paid for a soup of whole chicken with ginseng, Korean style.

The Chinese, like Koreans, believe that ginseng is an energy food, a tonic that boosts the immune system and a source of energy and vitality. Koreans are definitely very proud of their ginseng. It is almost like their pride joy, aside from their Kimchi.

There are many grades of Korean ginseng, with the really good ones costing over thousands dollars. In terms of taste, I think the Chinese ones are slightly more herby and Korean ones are sweeter. But then again I dont think I have tasted the really good quality ones from both.

This is a Korean dish, which is quite easy to prepare and it tastes excellent. Glutinous rice is stuffed into the chicken's cavity and simmer to cook.

The natural sweetness of the chicken goes well with the ginseng soup combined with the ever zen-like simplicity of the glutinous rice. The best thing about this combination is that the glutinous rice absorbs the sweetness of chicken. Everything has a reason & role to play.

It is also a good dish to enhance the energy for your family especially on hot evenings. I normally have to use whole dried chinese ginseng, which costs around MYR15 each. There are available at Chinese medicine halls and in some wet markets.

1 - 1.2 kg of small whole kampung chicken
2 pcs of whole chinese/korean ginseng
6-8 pcs of red dates
1 whole bulb of garlic
1 tbsp of pine nuts or 4-5 chestnuts optional
1 tbsp of thornberry optional
80 - 100gm of glutinous rice
About 1-1 1/2 litre of water or enough to cover up to 3/4 of the chicken.

Salt and Pepper dip:
1 tbsp of salt
1 tbsp of pepper

1) Wash chicken clean of all its internals. Chop off at the neck area. But DO NOT cut too deep till you have a gaping hole. Note also to leave skin flapping on at the chicken bottom so that you can easily seal it up later.

2) Wash glutinous rice and soak it in water for 1/2 hour or so. Wash other ingredients.

3) Fill the glutinous rice, one piece of ginseng and 2-3 pcs of red dates up to 2/3 of the chicken cavity. Seal up the chicken by 'sewing' the skin up with a toothpick or satay stick.

4) Boil water in a pot that could go straight onto the table later on (say a claypot or a deep casserole dish). Add the other piece of ginseng, garlic, pinenuts, thornberries and rest of dates.

5) Add chicken tummy side up especially if you could not manage to seal up the skin well. Cook simmering for at least one hour or until chicken meat is so tender that it could almost, but not falling from the bone.

6) Serve by dividing the dish into individual smaller bowls with some glutinous rice topped with some meat. Roast the salt and pepper and the diners can dip as they like. This dish can be serve as an individual with one diner having one small chicken in a small pot. You can also chop some spring onions to sprinkle on dish.


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WoMbOk™♂ said...

Ooo I remember having this in Nz a few years back. Very power and the chicken was very very tender and tasty.

Just wanted to ask Nee, what's a thornberry?

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