Easy Korean ginseng soup (samgyetang)
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Easy Korean ginseng soup (samgyetang)


Susan says

In Korea, samgyetang, or chicken and ginseng soup, is most popular in the hottest days of summer because it causes those who eat it to sweat, which then cools them down. It's good year-round and is very easy to make. In restaurants that specialise in this soup, individual portions include a whole, small chicken. I usually use Cornish game hens, but it's even better with small spring chickens, which are more tender and succulent.

Fresh ginseng root and peeled ginkgo nuts can be found in the chilled vegetable section of shops specialising in Korean ingredients, where you can also find gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes) and white-radish kimchi.

This recipe is adapted from one in the book Eating Korean, by Cecilia Hae-jin Lee. 

small Cornish hens or spring chickens, thawed if frozen
150g (5⅓oz)
glutinous rice
2, about 10cm (4in) long
fresh ginseng roots
ginkgo nuts, peeled
dried red dates
garlic cloves, peeled
chestnuts, shells and papery skin removed
fine sea salt
To serve
rough-flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)
white radish kimchi

Rinse the birds inside and out, then drain. Lightly sprinkle salt over the birds and in the cavity.


Wash the rice in several changes of water,then drain. Rinse the gingko nuts, dates and chestnuts, then drain.


In the cavity of each bird, put about half the rice (don't add it all because it expands as it cooks), four ginkgo nuts, two dates, two garlic cloves and two chestnuts.


Put the birds breast side-up in a pot large enough to fit them in one layer then add enough water to almost cover them. Put the ginseng in the pan and add the remaining gingko nuts, dates, garlic and chestnuts. Bring the water to a simmer then lower the heat, cover the pan with the lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Carefully turn the birds over and simmer for 15 more minutes, or until they're cooked through and the rice is tender.


Put the birds in large single-serving bowls and ladle the broth on top. Let each diner season the meat and broth with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Serve with white-radish kimchi.


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