Samgyetang Ginseng Chicken Soup

On my second day in Jeonju I had a chance to sample a dish I hadn’t had in Korea before; Samgyetang (삼계탕), which literally translates as “‘ginseng chicken soup” and is traditionally served in the summer for its supposed nutrients, which replace those lost through excessive sweating and physical exertion during the hot weather.


The dish consists of a whole young chicken which is stuffed with glutinous rice and then boiled in a broth of Korean ginseng, garlic, ginger, and dried seeded jujube fruits. Each restaurant has its own variation on the recipe which is surprisingly simple to prepare (once you have the right ingredients).

Summer Chicken Lunch

As usual it’s served with a variety of small side dishes – the small pancakes at the bottom of the photo are called buchimgae which is made from kimchi mixed into a wheat flour-based batter, and then pan-fried. Very tasty!

We had it for lunch and the video above shows how Samgyetang is served and cut open in the stone pot to reveal all the succulent ingredients inside.

Ginseng Chicken Soup

The taste of ginseng might be a little strange to those not used to it but the combination is delicious and at only 12,000 won (~£6) quite reasonably priced. It’s widely believed in Korea that the soup can cure and prevent physical ailments as well as provide relief from bad hangovers!

Chili Ladies

Koreans use an inordinate number of chillies in their cooking and on our way back that day we came across these ajuma (older women) de-seeding an enormous pile of chillies. If you imagine the smell of cutting one or two chillies in your own kitchen then time it by a thousand you can imagine what it was like. You wouldn’t want to rub your eyes (or any other body part) after a days work here!

David avatar

3 responses

  1. mmmm…. samgyetand……

    there’s a place in dongdaemun that’s famous for samgyetang. so good.

  2. Simon avatar

    That chicken soup reminds me of the ginseng chicken soup we had in taiwan with Tommy up in the mountains at his mother’s restaurant…

    1. Yeah a bit similar but the taste is not so strong. Pics of that here –


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