What is the most invigorating and energetic food that Koreans enjoy during the hot summer? No one will disagree that it is Samgyetang. It seems natural that, during the hot season, people usually want to eat cold food like ice cream to keep cool. However, eating too much is not advisable for one’s health as it does not prevent the bodily temperature from rising. At that time eating cold food can damage the liver and stomach so it is advisable to eat warm-to-hot foods especially in summer. Koreans called this ‘Iyeolchiyeol’(fighting heat with heat) which means ‘hot foods are the panacea for hot weather.’
Samgyetang is composed of stewed whole chicken laced with ginseng, ginger, jujubes, garlic, and glutinous rice. It is a Korean traditional health food good for sweating, loss of appetite, and fatigue. In Korea it is a ‘must-eat’ food for ‘Sambok’ (the three hottest days of summer): Chobok-July 14, Jungbok-24, and Malbok- August 13).
According to the Boncho Gangmok (Compendium of Material Medical, 1596), chicken is good for someone who has a low body temperature, and the Dongui Bogam (Exemplar of Korean Medicine, 1613) says that chicken gives energy to the human body. The view of a present-day nutritionist is that chicken is also one of the most nutritious foods because it has 19.8g of protein, 14.1g of fat, 0.6g of minerals, 1.2mg of iron content, and some vitamin A per 100g of chicken meat.
As the food of Iyeolchiyeol, samgyetang contains the energy foods ginseng, garlic, and jujube. Nowadays, many kinds of samgyetangs that add ingredients other than ginseng, garlic, and jujube, have appeared such as Jeonbok samgyetang (adding abalones), Hanbang samgyetang (adding herb remedies), Nokdu samgyetang (adding mung beans) and Ogolgye samgyetang (a kind of chicken known as Gallus gallus var. domesticus)
Samgyetang is already popular outside Korea. Especially in Hongkong and Taiwan more and more people like samgyetang and the export amount has been dramatically growing with the Hallyu wave (Korean culture boom overseas). From January to April this year the export amount of vacuum-packed samgyetangs, which are safe and keep their taste, was USD 1.78m, a 22% increase compared to the same period last year.
So let’s go for eating samgyetang and forget about the sultriness of summer.
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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