Korean Recipe: Samgyetang {삼계탕} Chicken and Ginseng Soup

Samgyetang recipe-Korean ginseng chicken soup | by fit for the soul
Samgyetang ingredients | by fit for the soul
Korean chicken soup with ginseng-samgyetang recipe | by fit for the soul

Finally!  I can say a few good things about my Korean heritage now that I'm older and wiser.  Errrrr and Gangnam Style isn't one of them.  But! Can we say Korean food?! 

Though in my opinion our dishes aren't the most exciting thing to come off in a picture, unless you're talking about cheese tteokbokki, Korean cuisine certainly offers some of the most explosive flavors and nutritious dishes around.  Not everything is low fat or figure friendly as mainstream culture blows it up to be, but I think most of us agree that it's packed with a variety of healthy ingredients that are palatable to even toddlers.  Make that toddlers and picky husbands who won't eat vegetables unless they've had the magic {Korean} touch--aka, red pepper, garlic, and sesame oil.

Samgyetang (삼계탕), transliterated to chicken and ginseng soup, is one of those fascinating recipes that not only boast the most perfect ratio of tender meat and sweet chewy rice, but is consumed for medicinal purposes as well.  We all know how magical ginseng is especially if we've grown up in a holistic type of upbringing. All throughout my childhood--and I'm sure many of you from the Motherland can relate--it was common practice to get my ear talked off with something along the lines of:

"If you eat yams then your face will glow with beauty like Miss Korea!" 

"did you know that pork is good for washing down all the ickies from your intestines?" (totally confused about that one)

"best that you polish this fruit plate after dinner so you can stay regular tomorrow" (sorry for that tmi)

And so on and so on.  That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our kooky little sayings.  Come to think of it, I'm not even sure which one was made up by Mom because believe me...she has a knack for reasoning the strangest things in her own mind and actually making them sound like truth. 

Now, for those of you who have a penchant for suffering through a weekend hangover...well, you're in luck.  I may not condone that kind of behavior but at least I want to help in the aftermath.  ;) Samgyetang is touted to be one of the best hangover dishes as it's warming and comforting thanks to its earthy flavors.  But most importantly, ginseng is known to "calm the body down" and sort of reset all your organs through means of detoxing.  You know, just in case you were just googling how to get rid of a hangover. I got your back.

Samgyetang best hangover and medicinal recipe | by fit for the soul

For this recipe I suggest that you shop at your nearest Korean store to keep things stress-free.  Cornish hen is highly recommended as it will result in the most tender meat you ever will taste.  Plus, it's extremely inexpensive depending on where you buy it.  Browse the aisles for some fresh ginger, packaged ginseng roots and sweet short rice (찹쌀), and you're good to go.  I would easily order this at a restaurant every time I pay a visit but unfortunately, it is very pricey compared to making it at home...say, a hefty jump from $16 to $7-8 per person if I cook it myself.  One way I would describe this dish is hearty, packed with gingery kick in the back of your throat, and the healthiest of soul food dishes ever. 

Samgyetang Korean chicken and ginseng soup | by fit for the soul

Samgyetang {Korean Chicken & Ginseng Soup}

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients for Samgyetang soup

10 cups water

1/2 tsp sea salt+pinch of pepper

1/2 of ginseng root package (about 1/2 cup)

2 star anise (optional)

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 thumb sized ginger, chopped (about 1 tsp)

Ingredients for chicken

2 Cornish hens, rinsed in and out

1 1/2 cups short sweet rice (찹쌀)

3 garlic cloves, minced

6 sprigs of green onion, chopped

1 thumb sized ginger, chopped (about 1 tsp)

4 jujube dates

4 toothpicks for pinning


Start with the soup.  In a large pot over low heat, preferably in a pot that is somewhat taller rather than wide, add all the soup ingredients and simmer as you move on to the chicken.

Make sure the cornish hens are clean inside by taking out any giblets which should already be in a bag ready to go.  From here on out, use half of all the ingredients for each hen so you end up with two equal servings.  Open the back side of the hen by lifting the fat and whatever else is in the way, so as to make room for the rice mixture.  Grab about 3/4 cup of the sweet rice (half of what is on the list) and carefully pour a little bit inside the hole while reserving the rest.  Put in a little bit of garlic next, and then some of the green onion, followed by a little bit of the ginger and 2 jujube date.  Repeat that whole step starting with the rice.  Do the same thing for both hens; pin the holes by grabbing the skin and piercing it with the toothpick as if you were sewing.  Make an "X" with the toothpicks so the hole stays completely sealed.

Carefully place them in the pot breast side up and boil on low-medium heat for approximately 50-60 minutes.  This may depend on the size of your chicken and height of the pot.  The taller pot you have, the easier it will be to cook the top of the hen thoroughly.  Serve with pickled side dishes and enjoy!

Have you tried Samgyetang?  How was it for you?

Your best or favorite chicken recipe?  Feel free to share links.

In the Golden Hour+Thursday Links

Selah in the golden hour at Torrance Wilson Park | fit for the soul
Selah by baseball diamond at Wilson Park | by fit for the soul

One of the best aspects of being a mom, besides all the mushy stuff like loving my child to death, watching her learn, buying her cute outfits and what have you, is simply spending time together.  If you know us in the least bit, you're well aware that Selah and I can't stay cooped up in the house for one day straight!  Well, there are exceptions like when she's noticeably sick because the moment she feels a draft--out comes out eh....I'll save you the details. ;)  Needless to say, documenting Selah being amazed by nature is one of my favorite hobbies, something that probably won't last all that long since you know, she'll be a teenager come tomorrow.  The golden hour has been our friend, not only because it produces the most beautiful glimmers of sun in every photo and I'd like you to think I'm a pro, but because I find it to be most serene when I'm feeling "all the things".  Nature is soothing and brings reflection to my soul. It reminds me that there is a golden hour to hold onto in every season of life. But so is taking silly photos of Orion the Lion, as is baking.  The only drawback is that those beautiful rolls resulted in embarrassing pastries that only Selah appreciated, hah!  My baby (or should I say toddler?!) thinks anything I make is the best ever, so tack that on to the list of why being a mom is awesome, hah!

And now it is time for Thursday links, my friends.  There are some dangerous ones in here, but still do try to show them some love. ;)

This peppermint chocolate cake just did a very bad thing.  It made my insatiable chocolate cravings (as of late) a little worse, and probably yours too!

Mushroom Bourguignon?!  I've never tasted such a thing but I know it would become one of my favorite dishes.  If you're a mushroom hater then we'll have to overcome some hurdles *ahem Greg*.

Gasp! Wait for me Zara, till I save up enough to buy your every children's outfit.  Too adorable for words.  One thing though.  Is it just me or do children models become more..."model-esque" as the years go by??? What do you think of that?

I know I say a lot of things are my favorite but hear me out.  Linzer cookies.  And salted caramel.  Yup!  It's safe to say that after my first homemade ginger caramel experience I've crossed over to the dark side.

I didn't know gingerbread was this fun and versatile!  Maybe it's the gorgeous pictures but these mini gingerbread houses are so fun to look at.  Knowing myself I'd perfect it, then eat the house as it experiences a slowwww but sure death.

Besides chocolate I've been waiting to make super green salads with a lot of substance.  I'm all about Mediterranean food right now and this deconstructed falafel salad looks so heart and refreshing!

I love the idea of adding greens and festive details to a simple wrapped gift!  Bells are such a cute and thoughtful little touch.

What your favorite links from this past week?

In what ways do you de-stress and take time to reflect/relax?

Banana Bread Pudding and a Ginger Caramel Sauce

Banana Bread Pudding and a Ginger Caramel Sauce Recipe | by fit for the soul
Banana Bread Pudding Recipe for Fall | by fit for the soul
Caramel Bread pudding recipe and ginger caramel sauce | by fit for the soul

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Bread pudding is everything sometimes--as in it's super easy to combine different ingredients and still end up with dazzling results, it comes together quicker than jelly and toast, and it looks fancy enough to show your loved ones that you really do care. 

As you can tell by my neutral presence here on the blog and social media lately, I've been preoccupied with many things. Yes, things are important sometimes!  And this past Saturday we had another successful Women's Ministry brunch!  Just like last time, I spent a chunk of my week tying loose ends on the Bible study which left me with little time to cook, let alone create, recipes boasting that wow factor.  I wanted to bring an impressive dish to the brunch without spending hours in the kitchen because frankly, I needed to focus on the lesson more than anything.  Little did I know that "impressive" doesn't always mean spending an hour in the kitchen blending up my own pear tart, nor was I keen on the fact that store bought bread could actually result in a fancy breakfast which would have some women asking for the recipe.  I have to admit though...the "I really hope you like it and I'll gawk at you until I see your true reaction" feelings subsided once I got such positive feedback on this pudding because really...who likes criticism?! ;) 

Too bad I didn't come up with the idea of ginger caramel sauce until yesterday. There's something incredibly refreshing about sweets (in this case lots of sugar) that have been kissed with just the perfect amount of zing.  Ginger can be used to settle the gooey and ultra sweet quality of caramel without actually making it bland...if that makes any sense.  The fruit ingredients sweeten this bread without the need to add a whole cup of sugar.  Somewhat wholesome, sweet, and filling is how I'd describe it.  Then drizzle some decadent caramel and  celebrate breakfast!  One of the best reasons to celebrate.

Banana Bread Pudding {Whole Grain}

Makes one 9x9 inch pan


8-9 cups cubed wheat bread (like soft+small or large rolls)

3 large eggs

1 cup+2 tbsp milk of choice

1/4 cup honey (or brown sugar)

4 tbsp melted unsalted butter (or melted coconut oil)

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ginger powder

1 cup chopped pineapple (canned is easiest)

2 large bananas, cut in any form

2 tbsp coarse raw sugar (or brown sugar)

2 tbsp coconut flakes (optional)


Preheat oven to 425 F (218 C).  In a large bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly, then whisk in milk, honey, butter, and vanilla for a few seconds.  Add the rest of the ingredients minus the bread, sugar, and coconut.  Whisk thoroughly and then soak bread cubes as you coat them evenly.  In a pan lined with parchment or just lightly buttered, pour out the bread along with liquid mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes or until pudding is gelatin-like but browned all around.  Lastly, take foil off and sprinkle with sugar and coconut (optional) and bake for 2 minutes.

Note that some types of bread will soak the liquids right away and some will take a while.  The first time I used Gonnella Ukrainian bread which is still pretty soft all around and the second time I used whole wheat rolls.  The latter one created a slightly denser pudding as it ate up all the liquids, so adjust milk accordingly so it's somewhat jiggly but not soggy in the end result.

Ginger caramel sauce on bread pudding | by fit for the soul

Ginger Caramel Sauce

Makes just about 1 cup


4 tbsp unsalted butter

5 tbsp heavy whipping cream

3 tbsp milk of choice

1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger (thumb sized piece)

pinch sea salt

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla


In a small sauce pan over low-medium heat, melt and brown butter for about 2-3 minutes.  This means that the butter will turn slightly golden brown and will foam or bubble up.  Pour in the cream, milk, grated ginger, salt and simmer for about 1 minute.  Add brown sugar and vanilla extract and frequently stir it while scraping the sides (with a spoon that doesn't ruin the pan), let it boil up and this process takes about 4 minutes.  Cook and stir until it becomes brown-ish and caramelized but not burnt.  If you like it stickier then add a few more tbsps of sugar and cook just a bit longer.  Let it cool slightly and pour on bread pudding or anything you want.  Yes, even ice cream.

What's your favorite caramel sauce recipe or variation?

Favorite bread dish you'd bring to a brunch?

Our Thanksgiving+Friday Links

Our Thanksgiving+Friday Links

I baked the brie wheel with caramelized grapes and then toasted sourdough cubes to dip them in said cheese.  Perhaps the smartest idea I've had lately. And of course, we couldn't go without the combo of pancetta wrapped cheese and corn muffins.

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Mochi and Red Bean Bundt Cake for Thanksgiving+The Constancy of Gratitude

Mochi and Red Bean Bundt Cake for Thanksgiving+The Constancy of Gratitude

Now, to top my love for the bundt even more, it just so happened that right when I was {probably} creating this recipe back in my kitchen, one of my best friends, Susan, was busy getting engaged!  And soon after she gave me the honor of being her bridesmaid and I couldn't feel more special.  My friends, I think all of this goodness calls for a celebration. 

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Corn Muffins With Rolled Up Pancetta and Camembert for Thanksgiving

Corn Muffins With Rolled Up Pancetta and Camembert for Thanksgiving

These corn bread muffins have been topped with Marin French Cheese's wonderful Camembert rolled up in a slice of Applegate Farm's pancetta.  A simple combo like this adds the perfect savory touch to this otherwise sweet side dish. 

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