Saturday, May 16, 2009


Rule-of-thumb recipes #1

Samgyetang (also Sam gae tang) is, according to Wikipedo, "a variety of guk or Korean soup, whose main ingredients are a whole young chicken and Korean ginseng."

I was lucky enough to sample this in Korea, the recommendation to do so being possibly the only worthwhile 838 words to venture forth from the considerable jaw of one of Hirakata's more persistent students (no prizes for guessing.)

Having obtained some dried ginseng during a recent foray into Birmingham's Chinatown, I was all eager to have a go at Samgyetang and expunge the shame of my recent attempt at Ramen, which even the cat wouldn't eat:

What you will need:

A young chicken
A couple of bits of ginseng
3-4 cloves of garlic
Red dates (aka Jujubes)
Water chestnuts
Spring onions

What you will actually get:

A long, blank stare from the proprietor of the local delicatessen, followed by a rather more fruitful trip to the Co-Op, although you'll probably have to make do with regular dates.

Also, some ginger is recommended, in order to take away the taste of the ingredients.

Seven steps to culinary heaven:

1. Remove the wrapper from the chicken, and cut the string binding it, so you have good access to its cavity.

2. Stick all of the ingredients inside the chicken, except the spring onions, which you forgot to buy, and the water chestnuts which, for reasons best known to yourself, you hide behind the bread crock.

3. Having stuffed all of the rest of the ingredients inside the chicken, realise that they will probably fall out once the cooking process is underway and repent you of having treated the piece of string in such a cavalier fashion. Retrieve the piece of string and truss the chicken as best you can with it, to avoid loss of stuffing.

4. Bung the chicken in the pressure cooker and dole on whatever you deem to be a sensible amount of water.

5. Cook for about 15 minutes, then realise that you forgot to include the water chestnuts and swear loud enough to give your cats a nasty fright.

6. Cook for a further 45 minutes, adding the water chestnuts to the broth shortly before the end, in order that they should at least be warm.

7. Your samgyetang is complete! Serve a helping to your brother to make sure that it's not immediately fatal, then tuck in.

The way it was served in Korea was in a deep clay bowl with the whole chicken inside. Unfortunately, we had to split a single chicken, which made it a bit messy, but it still tasted ok. Anyway, I made the damn thing and no one died. I hope all of you reading at home will be inspired to give it a go.


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