Samgye-tang (삼계탕; 蔘鷄湯) or ginseng chicken soup,[1] meaning ginseng (Kor. sam) - chicken (Kor. gye) - soup (Kor. tang) in Korean, consists primarily of a whole young chicken (poussin) filled with garlic, rice, jujube, and ginseng.[3] Samgye-tang is a Korean traditional soup for body health.[4] Samgye-tang is a representative summer health food. Soup made with chicken that is slightly larger than the chick is called Yeonggye Baeksuk, and the chicken is divided into half is called Banggye-tang.

Samgyetang (삼계탕), one of the most popular Korean cuisine dishes.
Alternative namesGinseng chicken soup
Place of originKorea
Serving temperatureHot or Warm
Main ingredientsChicken, ginseng
Ingredients generally usedJujube, glutinous rice
Korean name
Revised Romanizationsamgye-tang[1][2]


During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), people enjoyed the numerous chicken soup dishes that were similar to Samgye-tang, including Yeongye-tang, Chonggye-tang, and Hwanggye-tang. [5] While it was the custom to make a soup with young chicken and serve it to elders during the summer days, the chicken boiled with milkvetch roots and its broth were served to the sick queen during King Injo's reign.[6] However, the description of the dish that most closely resembles today's form of Samgye-tang can be found in Joseon Yorijaebeop (Korean: 조선 요리제법; Hanja: 朝鮮料理製法), the cookbook Shinyoung Bang, the professor of Ewha Womans University, wrote in 1917 to compile the information on how to make various traditional dishes of Joseon. In the book, it is described that Dakguk (닭국), or chicken soup, is made by gutting a chicken and stuffing the inside with three spoons of glutinous rice and one spoon of ginseng powder, followed by tying up the opening and boiling the chicken with ten bowls of water.[5] During the Japanese colonial era, the Japanese officials who investigated the cultures of former Joseon noted that rich families boiled the chicken stuffed with ginseng and used the broth as medicine in summer.[7]

The dish began to be commercially sold at restaurants around 1940s and under the name Gyesam-tang ((Korean: 계삼탕; Hanja: 鷄蔘湯) in 1950s, which meant chicken ginseng soup.[7] With the supplying of modern refrigerators in Korea, it became possible to preserve a ginseng as whole instead of powder.[7][8] Thus, since 1960s, it became more common to stuff the chicken with a whole piece of ginseng instead of powder, reaching today's form of the dish.[7][8] To emphasize the medicinal effects of the ginseng in the soup, many people since then have started calling the dish Samgye-tang (ginseng chicken soup) instead of Gyesam-tang (chicken ginseng soup).[7]


It is the custom in Korea to eat Samgye-tang during hot summer days in order to replenish the nutrients that were lost through the sweating and physical activities.[9] It is especially popular to eat this chicken soup on sambok (삼복) days, which are three distinct days of the lunar calendar—Chobok (초복), Jungbok (중복), and Malbok (말복)—commonly among the hottest and most sultry summer days in Korea.[3][10]

Some specialty restaurants in South Korea serve only samgyetang, having gained local popularity through their special recipes for the dish, which are often kept as secrets. The dish is sometimes accompanied by a small complimentary bottle of insam-ju (ginseng wine) in certain restaurants.[11][12]


The recipe for Samgye-tang is to put glutinous rice, garlic and jujube wrapped in clean cloth in the stomach of the gutted chicken, and boil it in a pot with plenty of water to get it out when the meat is fully cooked. Ginseng is wrapped in a cloth, put in soup, and the ingredients of ginseng are thickened, so it is seasoned with salt to drink only the soup, or seasoned meat in the soup. However, if ginseng is mixed with glutinous rice and put into a chicken, the nutrients of ginseng permeate the chicken bones, reducing the nutrients of ginseng. In addition to ginseng, it is also eaten with poison ivy, cedar, and abalone. Some say that jujube should not be eaten because it absorbs the bad ingredients of Samgye-tang, but it is not true and can be eaten.[13]

Although it is considered standard to add young chicken and ginseng for 6 years as ingredients in Samgye-tang, many restaurants do not find these ingredients easily and often use Ungchu or 4-year-old ginseng because the cost of ingredients becomes more expensive. In fact, there is an opinion that four-year-old ginseng has no problem because saponin, the effective ingredient of ginseng, is not much different from six-year-old ginseng. Some companies use ginseng for one to two years or replace it with Astragalus propinquus that tastes similar.[14]

See also


  1. (in Korean) "주요 한식명(200개) 로마자 표기 및 번역(영, 중, 일) 표준안" [Standardized Romanizations and Translations (English, Chinese, and Japanese) of (200) Major Korean Dishes] (PDF). National Institute of Korean Language. 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  2. "삼계탕". National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  3. Hyosun Ro. "Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)". Korean Bapsang. Retrieved 2014-12-25.
  4. (in Korean) "삼계탕[samgyetang / Ginseng Chicken Soup,蔘鷄湯]". doopedia. Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  5. Woo, Jeongsoo (2021-04-02). ""정부가 삼계탕 역사 체계적으로 정리, 국내외 알려야"" (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  6. Kim, Sujin (2010-07-07). ""삼계탕"" (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  7. Im, Seongman (2020-07-20). ""[임성만의 산삼? 약삼!] ⑪ 삼계탕은 언제부터 한국인의 식탁에 올랐을까?"" (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  8. Jang, Sookyung (2020-07-06). ""[문화곳간] '복날' 선조들이 즐긴 최고의 복달임 음식은?"" (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-11-23.
  9. Lim, Tong Kwee (2015). Edible medicinal and non medicinal plants. Volume 9, Modified stems, roots, bulbs. Dordrecht. p. 511. ISBN 978-94-017-9511-1. OCLC 897810272.
  10. (in Korean) Boknal Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine at Encyclopedia of Korean Culture
  11. (in Korean) Taste, this taste, Sports Khan, 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2010-07-06.
  12. (in Korean) Nutritious foods of summer and wine, Maekyung, 2009-07-07.Retrieved 2010-07-06.
  13. ""삼계탕 속 대추, 먹으면 안 돼"...진실은?". (in Korean). 2016-07-17. Retrieved 2021-06-06.
  14. Sue (2017-07-08). "Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)". My Korean Kitchen. Retrieved 2021-06-06.
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