Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samgyetang)


(click on pics to enlarge)

There are two Asian soups I really enjoy.  I am totally O-M-Lambs besotted about them! One is a Vietnamese soup called Pho (Phở) and the other is Korean Samgyetang.

Pho is pronounced “fuh”.  In fact, I get it from a restaurant here called What the Pho.  Pho is a complicated broth made with beef brisket, ox tail and beef bones, rice noodles called bánh Phở, star anise and other specialty herbs.  In south Mississippi it is as popular as Gumbo.  It is much cheaper to buy than to make.

The other soup is Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samgyetang).  This soup is perfect for the cold wet days to come when the germs and bugs are out and you’re feeling under the weather (or not so O-M-Lambs besotted).  It is much simpler to make than Pho, but it requires a visit to the local Asian market.  I work near a wonderful Vietnamese market that sells all the necessary ingredients.

The main ingredient for this soup obviously is dried ginseng root.  If ginseng root is not available you can use red ginseng tea sachets.  The other is a red Asian date called jujube (jujuba). This date comes from the Ziziphus jujuba plant.  Of course you need to find a small one serving chicken.  I have seen recipes recommending a Cornish Hen if you can’t find a small single serving chicken.  You will also need garlic cloves and sticky rice.  Ask for “sticky rice”.  I asked for glutinous rice and the clerk had no idea what I was talking about.  I then asked for sticky rice and he walked me to the rice section and pointed to two bags. One bag he called “sticky rice” and the other bag he called “very sticky rice”.  He laughed.

Ingredients for one: (But the Little Woman and I will split this dish.  Who drinks 6 cups of chicken soup in one sitting?)



  • 1 young whole chicken
  • Several dried ginseng roots
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 jujube (red dates)
  • 2 green onions (scallions)
  • Salt
  • A little chicken bouillon if you want to add more chicken flavor

Rice Stuffing:

  •  ½ cup rice uncooked
  • 1 ginseng root
  • 2 jujube dates
  • 1 garlic clove


Sack of rice (For extra rice in a cheesecloth pouch)

  • ½ cup rice uncooked
  • 1 ginseng root
  • 2 jujube dates
  • 1 garlic clove


Make the broth and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Stuff the chicken with the rice stuffing and close the chicken with a toothpick and then make the rice pouch.  Put everything in the pot and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Serve with chopped green onions.


Serve by spooning rice in the bottom of the bowl, add chicken, soup and cover with scallions.

The ginseng has a wonderful musty comfort food flavor.

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