Based on the lunar calendar, Koreans mark the hottest summer period with 3 distinct days – chobok (beginning), jungbok (middle) and malbok (end). On these days,Koreans traditionally eat samgyetang, ginseng chicken soup, which is believed to be an energy-boosting dish.
Today is “malbok“, and I realized I have not made this popular summer dish at all this summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any ginseng! I obviously couldn’t make ginseng chicken soup without ginseng. So, I decided to make another popular chicken soup, dak gomtang, instead. Gomtang generally refers to a soup made by simmering beef bones and meat for several hours. The result is a comforting milky broth with tender meat. Dak gomtang is a variation made with a whole chicken, but the chicken does not take as many hours to simmer. The key is to use a lot of garlic. Make this flavorful chicken soup and beat the heat the Korean way!
1 whole chicken (3 – 4 pounds)
10 – 12 garlic cloves
1 small piece ginger
1/2 medium onion
2 – 3 scallion white parts
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppers (optional)
10 cups of water
3 scallions, finely chopped to garnish
salt and pepper to taste
Place the cleaned chicken in a stock pot large enough to hold the chicken and 10 cups of water (6 – 8 quarts). Add the garlic, ginger, onion, scallions, optional peppers and 10 cups of water (or enough to cover the chicken).
Bring it to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam on top. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for about 40 – 50 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Cut through the thickest part of the breast, with a knife, to see if the chicken is cooked and tender.
Turn the heat off and carefully remove the chicken. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat off the bones. Shred the meat into small bite size pieces. You can strain the broth, remove the excess fat and serve at this point. But, I put the bones back in the soup and simmer again for more flavorful broth.
Optional Step: Put the bones back in the broth and simmer over medium low heat for an additional 30 minutes to an hour depending on how much time you have.
To serve, place some rice in a serving bowl, add chicken pieces, and then ladle the hot broth on top. Typically, chopped scallions, salt and pepper are served separately so each person can season to taste. Serve piping hot with kimchi.