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삼계탕 aka Chicken Ginseng Soup

Sometimes I plan on making a specific recipe days or even weeks in advance, to the point where I have purchased all the ingredients, and when that day rolls around I end up making something completely different. Today was one of those days. I owe a friend some cookies, and today I was finally going to make them… until the weather forecast showed we were getting 10 inches of snow. I don’t like driving in the snow, so I decided it wasn’t the best day to make a cookie delivery. The problem: I still wanted to make something epic/out of the norm. Then it came to me. What better to make in the middle of a snowstorm than soup?


There has been a packet of 삼계탕재료 or SamGyeTang “Raw Materials” sitting on, no eyeing me from my kitchen table for weeks, and I finally found the perfect day to make it! The truth is, I bought the Cornish game hen needed for the recipe last week, but then each day I wanted to make it, it was dark out by the time I had the time to make it… and I really wanted to have nice pictures, so I didn’t ever make it! >.<

I have made 삼계탕 a few times before, experimenting with different “material” packets. This one was really unique, and there are a few things that are mysteries to me. This packet had ginseng, dried red dates (jujubes), and… hunks of wood? Really I have no idea, and my Korean is not good enough (I am too lazy) to read the packet and understand everything.


Between having made 삼계탕 before, and being able to understand most of the directions on the label, I didn’t really use a recipe—mostly I just threw things together. However, I did check out Marc’s recipe on No Recipes to see if he used the mysterious pieces of wood…and also because of my foodie crush. Anyhow, he suggested using a piece of kombu in the stock, so I pulled that item in from his recipe.

Before we start, I am sure non-Korean speakers are curious what food I have been talking about. 삼계탕, pronounced Sam Gye Tang and using the Chinese characters 蔘鷄湯, can be roughly translated to mean “Chicken Soup with Ginseng.”

First, wash and salt a cornish game hen, before stuffing it with ginseng, garlic, dates and rice. Then use magic to seal the cavity of the hen with only the drumsticks.

Meanwhile, make a stock with the rest of the 삼계탕재료 and a piece of kombu. Add the hen and simmer.

After one hour, your soup is ready!

I like to remove the hen from the soup and shred the meat off of the bone.

And tada! 삼계탕!



1 cornish game hen
1 packet 삼계탕재료 (or 4 dried red dates, dried ginseng, and dried chestnuts)
2-4 cloves fresh garlic
¼-1/2 cup sticky rice
1 small piece of dried kombu
~8 cups of water


• Completely thaw the Cornish game hen, wash and rub with salt.
• Rinse the rice and set aside.
• Place the water in a pot with the 삼계탕재료 (excluding 1 date and 1 piece of ginseng), 1-3 cloves of garlic, and the kombu. Bring to a boil.
• Place 1 clove of garlic, 1 date, and 1 piece of ginseng into the cavity of the hen, then fill the remaining area with rice. Poke a hole and through the flap above the drumstick, then poke the end of the drumstick through the hole to close it off. You can also use toothpicks to help close the hole off.
• When the water boils, remove the kombu and add the hen.
• Bring the water back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add any remaining rice to the water around the hen, cover and cook for 1 hour.
• To serve, either place the entire hen in a bowl and spoon the liquid around it, or remove the chicken to a cutting board and chop it into pieces before placing it in the serving bowl.

**I like my 삼계탕 to be more like porridge. If you would rather have a clearer broth, do not add the remaining rice to the soup—only place rice inside the hen.
**Many recipes call for chicken stock or chicken broth instead of water. I actually dislike using store bought stocks in recipes, I think all other flavors get masked when it is used, so I avoid using store bought stocks whenever possible. Because of all the flavors, you basically make your own stock as you go, so I really don’t think any type of stock is needed in this recipe anyway.


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