Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)
I know it's way too hot for most people to be contemplating chicken soup, but I've been wanting to make this for ages so when I finally realized I had all the ingredients in my kitchen I had to go for it. Turns out it wasn't as bad a choice as I thought it was. The chicken is great at room temperature, and the broth can be as hot or cold as you're willing to drink it. I like mine boiling, so I chose to sweat through dinner.
The process is easy, as is the ingredient list:
1 small chicken (a 3 lb. fryer or a cornish game hen)
1-2 cups of washed glutinous rice, soaked in water overnight or at least 4 hours
1 handful dried jujubes
1 handful gojiberries
1 handful ginseng
a few cloves of garlic
1 stalk green onions, chopped
a small dish of one part white pepper mixed with one part salt
I like my broth strongly flavored, so adjust the dried ingredients if you want a lighter flavor. There are no rules, you'll just end up with a tasty, light chicken broth. Nothing wrong with that.
Rinse the chicken inside and out, and stuff with as much wet (but drained) rice as will fit. Also put in one piece of ginseng (about the size of your thumb), one clove of peeled garlic, and three or four jujubes. tie up the openings of the chicken with string, toothpicks, or bamboo skewers. You want to close it up enough that rice doesn't fall out, but you still allow liquid to get in to cook the rice. Submerge the chicken in a pot of cold water and add the rest of the ginseng, jujubes, and two cloves of garlic to the water.
Bring the water to a boil. Immediately turn the flame down to a simmer, and simmer the chicken for an hour. Skim off any skum that comes to the surface. Simmer for a 90 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, adding the gojiberries in the last fifteen minutes. You can salt the soup towards the end of cooking or let each person to salt his or her own serving.
Set the chicken on a counter until it's cool enough to handle, then scoop out the rice into a large serving bowl. It should be cooked all the way through, but don't panic if it's not. Just put it in a pot or steamer and cook for ten more minutes. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into pieces and place on a serving plate.
Set the rice and chicken on the table along with a dish of chopped green onions, the salt and pepper blend, and a bowl of plain salt. I like to start with a bowl of broth with a sprinkling of onions in it, then move on to a bowl of rice and chicken dipped in the salt and pepper blend. You can also serve bowls of soup with the rice at the bottom and a few pieces of chicken already in the soup. Or you can bring the entire pot to the table and rip it apart in front of your guests. Any way you serve it, it's mighty tasty!
Maybe the herbs in it help you stay cool? Although that doesn't make sense either, since people drink plenty of ginseng in the winter to stay warm. At the very least it was a very light but filling meal, as all soups are. No heavy laden down feeling, which is definitely a plus on a hot day.