Why Samgyetang Is Good for You on Hot Summer Days

  • By Yeon Dana

    July 20, 2010 12:23

    Many Koreans enjoy samgyetang (chicken soup with ginseng) on three special summer days -- Chobok, Jungbok and Malbok that are said to be the hottest days of the year. Collectively called Sambok, they fall between June and July in the lunar calendar and come at 10-day intervals. This year, they are July 19 and 29 and Aug. 8.

    Samgyetang is a whole chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, ginseng and other healthy ingredients like jujube, garlic and gingko nut. It is said to invigorate the appetite of people who have grown tired from the summer heat.

    Each ingredient of samgyetang has its own special function. Ginseng is a health specialty coveted in and by itself as it is effective in tackling multiple symptoms. It rejuvenates the body, boosts metabolism, reduces stress, treats diabetes, improves respiratory illnesses, spurs the digestive organs, and has anti-carcinogenic capabilities.

    According to oriental medicine guides, garlic detoxifies the body, jujube quenches thirst, and gingko nut protects lungs that are apt to be weakened by low energy levels. All of these ingredients are then cooked with chicken, rich in protein and essential amino acids. It is no wonder that samgyetang is an unrivaled healthy food at the hottest period of summer.

    But that does not fully explain why samgyetang is eaten in summer, not winter. Behind it lies the scientific wisdom that treats heat with heat. In summer, blood flow increases near the skin and decreases in the internal organs, leading to cooling of the organs and reducing appetite and energy. Eating a hot dish like samgyetang packed with nourishing ingredients can facilitate blood flow in the internal organs and thus help recover appetite and energy. It also lowers body heat by emitting sweat. Last but perhaps not the least, it is affordable, costing around US$10 a bowl.

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