Welcoming summer in Korea, besides facing hot sunny day with high humidity, you'd also find long queeing at restaurants serving Samgaetang. Samgaetang, or in other words, Ginseng Chicken Soup, is known as the food for welcoming Summer in Korea. Korean believe that this soup can give cool effect to your body, and give energy to prepare body's stamina along the whole hot summer. It was what I read in Korean newspaper.
At first I was confused. Eh? eating hot soup in hot weather? giving cool feeling? All I could imagine was sweating all over my body :p
But anyway, being in Korea, I'd like to experience it. Besides samgaetang is a delicious food, I also wanted to prove if I really get this cooling effect.
So 2 days ago we decided to have dinner at samgaetang restaurant. It's not early summer anymore (in fact its rainy season!), so I guessed I won't find long queeing at restaurant.
5 minutes after we ordered 2 portions of samgaetang and a bottle of beer, small plates of kimchi came. There were normal kimchi, radish kimchi (can't remember the name), sweetened peanut, a plate of fresh vegetables, white kimchi (not hot one), mashed garlic and kochujang (Korean chilli sauce)
The kimchi was hot, so Hiro didn't even think to try. But it was delicious. Inspite of the hot taste, I can feel the combination of sour and salty taste, mixed with fresh vegetable. The radish kimchi even richer in taste. I can feel sweet among hot, sour and salty taste.
The peanut was not special. It's just a usual sweetened peanut. I passed mashed garlic for sure, and thought of mixing the kochujang with the samgaetang later on.
After waiting for about 15 minutes, finally what we're waiting for was coming. Two bowls of very hot soup. I can see whole chicken drowning inside the soup, decorated with a lot of leek. The aroma instantly went into my nose, produced a lot of water inside my mouth :p.
Samgaetang is a whole chicken stuffed with korean sweet rice (chap sal), that was already mixed with spices. It was then boiled until all the ingredients are well cooked and the chicken's soft.
I poured salt and black pepper into the bowl, a big spoon of kochujang, then tasted it. Hmmm perfect. Then I tore the chicken's breast with my chopsticks. Strong ginseng smell came out. I found the rice with big ginseng inside. First spoon, awwwww HOT!!! But then....it was sooooo delicious. I can feel thick taste of ginseng mixed with garlic. There besides ginseng and garlic, I found ginger, chestnut and jujuba. Mixed with the soup, really....it was a perfect korean dinner!!
Total damage of 2 portions of Samgaetang and a bottle of beer was 23.000 Won (about IDR 230.000). Not expensive for such a delicious food in this expensive country (^__^)