Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Asian Eyes' Korea - Ginseng Chicken

Chicken + Ginseng = Nutritious
             Day 4, Nov/20th/2012, 12 noon: It was lunch time and on the menu today is Korea's famous Ginseng Chicken soup (Samgyetang) at a restaurant at Woori Technology Building at Kwanak-Gu, South Seoul. Kent relates to us a story how this meal came about. It started when the king beloved ginseng were eaten, he directed his officials to catch the culprit and to behead him. The officials searched high and low, and soon caught the thief, the king's very own chickens. The king put down a royal order that he will eats the chickens since they ate his ginseng, so the royal kitchen prepared Samgyetang for the king. In modern day, Samgyetang is a variety of Korean soup, consists primarily of a whole young chicken and Korean ginseng. The dish's name literally translates as "'ginseng chicken soup" in English. In Chinese culture, similar to Korean culture, it is believed that this soup can prevent illness. The main difference however, the Chinese believes that ginseng should not be consumed when one is sick because ginseng will trap the sickness within the person. Samgyetang is traditionally served in the summer for its supposed nutrients, which replaces those lost through excessive sweating and physical exertion during the hot summers in Korea.
            Our soups arrived in a hot stone bowl still piping hot, accompanied by 3 to 4 kimchi side dishes and a small complimentary bottle of insamju (ginseng wine). A whole young chicken is stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled in a broth of Korean ginseng, dried seeded jujube fruits, garlic, and ginger. Other medicinal herbs such as wolf berry, dangsam and danggui are added. The restaurant we go to are specialty restaurant that serve nothing but samgyetang, having gained local popularity through their special recipe for the dish which are often kept secret. Little M and Middle tried the insamju and wrinkled their eyebrows. I finished it for them while Big M took his in one gulp and then reached out for water.
           We enjoyed our ginseng chicken soup and meal, while Kent busy running around to top up our plate with free flow kimchi. The aromatic smell of the ginseng chicken was really invigorating and energy boosting. I finished off the soup and helped Little M with his. As always, there is a souvenir shop in the restaurant and the kids wandered about the shop while I took pictures of ginseng and chicken in the restaurant. 
          Here are the pictures at the ginseng chicken restaurant: 
Location:  WooriTG. Bldg., Bongchun-7dong 1595-1, Kwanak-Gu, Seoul, Seoul, South Korea.

A steel sculpture outside Woori Technology building that house Samgyetang restaurant caught my eyes. Not sure what it is. It looks 
like either an earphone or music symbols. 
Entrance to Woori Technology building. We took a lift inside this building to 
Samgyetang restaurant.
View from the outside the restaurant
Samgyetang signboard at the restaurant
Preserved ginseng in jar being displayed in the restaurant 
A picture of ginseng and chicken which the restaurant is famous for.
Free flow kimchi on every meal we had in Korea.
Typical seating arrangement in tourist designated restaurant. Noticed that the seats are small and cramped.

The chicken and ginseng on display above our head.
Our Ginseng chicken soup came with kimchi and vermicelli.
Finally our samgyetang arrived. It is piping hot as it was contained in a stone bowl
A closer look at the chicken in the boiling soup. Alas, the ginseng used in this soup was only a 2 years old ginseng.

Picture of 1-year-old to 6-years-old ginseng
A picture of a 6 years old ginseng will flower and then withers away. So the best ginseng is at 6 years old.

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