Ginseng Chicken Soup(蔘鷄湯)
Samgyetang (Kor. 삼계탕, Chin. 蔘鷄湯, lit. ginseng chicken soup) is a popular dish for Sambok (Kor. 삼복, Chin. 三伏, Three Dog Days, three hottest days in the sixth and seventh lunar months), made by boiling a young chicken with ginseng in a rustic ceramic pot. This soup is also referred to as gyesamtang (Kor. 계삼탕, Chin. 鷄蔘湯).
According to the “Dongui Bogam” (Kor. 동의보감, Chin. 東醫寶鑑, Exemplar of Korean Medicine, 1613), “eating the meat from a chicken with yellow feathers helps to control excessive thirst and urination, vitalizes the five viscera, increases yang energy, and warms the small intestines…. Ginseng complements the five viscera, stabilizes the spirit and soul, and fills what is lacking and weak in our body.”
Usually a chicken before the age of six months (i.e. before it starts to lay eggs) is used for the soup. Other ingredients include glutinous rice, chestnuts, dates, garlic and, more importantly, ginseng. According to the “Seoul Japhak Sajeon” (Kor. 서울잡학사전, Trivia Dictionary on Seoul, 1989), the dish was "more popular as a summer dish among the wealthy families than gaejangguk (Kor. 개장국, lit. dog meat soup). The name was changed from gyesamtang to samgyetang according to the increased popularity of ginseng in Korea and overseas"; (the two names use the same characters but in samgyetang the character for ginseng comes first). Stew made from a young chicken, along with yukgaejang (Kor. 육개장, spicy beef stew), were introduced as part of the Dog Days cuisine only in the early 20th century. These dishes were introduced in an effort to appeal to the tastes of those who did not like dog meat. Later the name of the chicken stew was changed from yeongyetang (lit. young chicken soup) to samgyetang because of the wide use of ginseng as a main ingredient of the soup.