Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ginseng Chicken Soup

Ginseng Chicken Soup is called "Sam Gae Tang" in Korean. Ginseng Chicken Soup is eaten on hottest days during summer season in Korea, believing that the nutrients from the herbs and proteins from the chicken can help nourish your body in summer when one can easily lose appetite and become weak from over sweating. According to the lunar calender, there are three hottest days in summer: one in the beginning of summer, one in the middle, and one towards the end of the summer. Sam gae tang is eaten for lunch on any of these days in Korea. Its ingredients are the ones commonly used in Chinese medicinal purposes: ginseng, and dates along with sweet rice, garlic and chest nuts. The flavor of this soup is really good. It's mild with a strong and concentrated chicken stock with flavors of the herbs.

Ingredients: whole young chicken (gutted), sweet rice, ginseng, dried dates, chestnuts, sliced ginger, several cloves of garlic, green onions

1. First, you need to put sweet rice in water and let it sit for 30 minutes at least until the rice softens up.

2. Take the chicken and broaden its rear for stuffing purpose.

3. Stuff it with the softened sweet rice, chestnuts, whole garlic, sliced gingers, and ginseng. Stuff as much as you can and try to close the opening with big pieces of dates and chestnuts.

4. Close its legs and carefully place it in an earthen bowl.

5. Add water, and add some garlic cloves, ginseng, and dates for flavoring the stock.

6. Place it on a stove and cook initially for 20 minutes in high heat.

Add some more water as the stock evaporates. Make sure you have enough water and your chicken is fully cooked in the first 20 minutes. You can flip the chicken and put it back to its original position.

7. After 20 minutes, put the lid on and turn the heat down to medium. Continue cooking for additional 40-45 minutes.
8. Constantly, open the lid and get rid of cooked blood clots found in foams using a netted spoon. You need to get rid of all these little dirty chunks and make the broth as clear as possible.

This is how clear the broth should be in the end.

9. Cut green onions and throw them onto the soup as garnish and flavoring.
Don't forget to add salt and pepper to the soup as needed. I also use salt and pepper on a side dish for dipping chicken meat. Also, this dish goes great with ginseng ju (ginseng wine) below. Enjoy!

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Ginseng Ju

Ginseng Ju also called "Insamju" or "Insam ju" is basically ginseng wine which is the fruit of months or years of patience. Dating back to Chosun dynasty, ginseng ju has been consumed for many purposes. Ginseng was used for Chinese and Korean medicine as an ingredient to nourish body organs and to increase stamina especially for men. Both American and Panax (Asian) ginseng roots are taken orally as adaptogens, aphrodisiacs, nourishing stimulants, and in the treatment of type II diabetes, including sexual dysfunction in men. A 2002 study by the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (published in the annals of the New York Academy of Sciences) found that in laboratory animals, both Asian and American forms of ginseng enhance libido and copulatory performance. These effects of ginseng may not be due to changes in hormone secretion, but to direct effects of ginseng, or its ginsenoside components, on the central nervous system and gonadal tissues. In males, ginsenosides can facilitate penile erection. This is consistent with traditional Chinese medicine and Native American medicinal uses of ginseng.

1. First you need bottles of soju. Soju is Korean vodka with an alcohol content ranging from 20-23%. They can be purchased at liquor stores.

2. With fresh ginsengs, place them in a position where the heads face upward. Keep pouring soju until it covers the top of the heads.
3. Put a date sticker on top of the jar and keep it in a dark place at least for next 6 months. Older it gets, better it will taste.

This is what it looks like after 6 months. For enhancing flavors, you can add dates and honey at this time and let it sit for another 6 months before drinking it. Hopefully, when I drink this later, I become strong like Hulk.

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Article - Northwest Asian Weekly

No objections to law student’s tasty blog

By Eleanor Lee

Northwest Asian Weekly

At first glance, Peter Park, a 28-year-old male law student, doesn’t fit the bill as a traditional Korean food connoisseur. But check out his cooking blog, Home Cooking Diary, and it’s obvious he can give any Korean grandma a run for her money.

When he makes doenjang jigae — a spicy miso stew — Park goes the extra mile and brings out his very own tuk bae gi — a traditional Korean earthenware bowl rarely seen in home kitchens these days.

Park immigrated from Korea when he was 15 and has been exposed to great cooking growing up as his parents own a soup restaurant in Westlake Center in downtown Seattle called McKinley’s Soup Plus.

By day he attends law school at Willamette University in Salem, Ore. By night Park maintains his blog, providing instructions for cooking dishes such as naengmyeon — buckwheat vermicelli noodles — the aforementioned doenjang jigae and haemool pajeon — a tasty seafood pancake.

Park’s blog also contains Japanese, Chinese and Asian fusion recipes, as well as a special category just for “instant foods.” And yes, the ever-conscientious Park painstakingly provides step-by-step instructions and photos for each category. It’s more than enough to make any Korean mother swoon.

Park admits that “many Korean mothers really like me after seeing my blog or trying my food,” although he adds that some find it strange that a man would have so much interest in cooking.

He added, “Also, I ended up teaching many of my girl friends how to cook. I definitely feel more welcomed by people since I published my blog.”

We found his blog so informative and endearing that we asked him to elaborate on his experience as a food blogger.

NWAW: Where did you learn to cook like that?

Park: I definitely learned how to cook from my mom. She taught me how to use condiments and herbs for flavoring including, but not limited to, Korean food. Also, whenever I eat out at good restaurants, I am usually analytical in guessing the ingredients when I taste something really good. I think I always had a genuine interest and appreciation for food and flavors.

NWAW: What gave you the idea to start the blog?

Park: When I first moved to a small town in Oregon for school, there weren’t many good restaurants near my school, and I remember always craving some good Asian food. ... Thanks to all the dried chili powders, soybean paste and all the condiments my mom packed for me before I left for school, cooking Korean food was easy when I finally became determined to set aside some time to cook almost every day.

Moreover, I felt really lucky that Safeway in my town had a small Asian section with stuff like wasabi and fish sauce. I had all I needed to cook whatever I wanted to eat and later really enjoyed myself from cooking to the point where I wanted to share the food by inviting some school friends who never had Korean food before.

They kept coming back to my apartment every weekend with six-packs of beer asking for recipes and to observe me while I cooked. So I thought maybe I will just create a blog and put up my recipes and pictures online so they don’t ask me for the same recipe, like, a hundred times. They loved it, especially that I took pictures of the step-by-step process.

Then I realized that there are a lot of people out there who will appreciate my recipes and the visual instructions.

NWAW: How much time do you spend working on the blog?

Park: Whenever I cook something new, I take pictures and that adds an additional 10-20 minutes to my normal dinnertime. After that, I upload and write recipes on weekend nights. I upload one or two recipes per week, and on average, I spend about an hour per week working on my blog.

NWAW: Do you prepare a sit-down dinner every night? What are some Asian restaurants in Seattle that you like?

Park: Right now, I am ... at my parent’s house for summer and I eat at home 80 percent of the time. I cook for my family a lot and love to see them enjoy eating, but really, nothing beats my mom’s Korean food, and that’s when I enjoy my dinner the most.

In Seattle, my favorite restaurants are Blue Ginger, Haru, Cedars, Taste of India, Thai Tom, Wasabi Bistro and Jade Garden.

NWAW: Do you think it’s important for Asian Americans to know how to cook traditional food? Can culture be retained without knowledge of one’s ethnic cuisine?

Park: I think food is such a big part of one’s culture that everyone should appreciate their own ethnic food culture. ... The easiest way is through experiencing ethnic cuisines at earlier ages.

Although there are other parts of a culture besides food that one can retain, such as studying the history or the politics, understanding the ethnic cuisine is so fundamental as it helps you appreciate the flavor of your own culture and provides an important opportunity to socialize and build a stronger bond between family members and friends.

I would say you should learn how to cook at least one ethnic cuisine, but if you’re really not a kitchen person, at least know some great Asian restaurants!

Visit Home Cooking Diary at

Eleanor Lee can be reached at

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