The Korean peninsula was for many years an agrarian society, and much of South Korea today remains farmland. Out of this society came a tradition called sambok, celebrated three distinct, typically hot days during the summer. Each day was punctuated by the consumption of samgyetang, a traditional ginseng chicken soup that uses a whole, though small, chicken, stuffed with glutinous sweet rice, dried jujubes, garlic, and ginseng. The kicker: the soup was served piping hot, on the hottest days of the year.
It’s a strange logic, yes, but as Koreans like to say: “fight fire with fire.” Actually the logic doesn’t make much sense, but that doesn’t take away from the actual nutritional benefits of eating samgyetang. I sampled a version of the aromatic, delicious, and ultimately nutritious soup at Ssyal, one of Chicago’s most notable traditional Korean restaurants. It proves that a bowl of chicken soup will always provide the cure you need, from fatigue to flatulence.