OISHII / A classic Korean soup dish made easy for home enjoyment

The Yomiuri Shimbun


The Yomiuri ShimbunSamgyetang

In this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home.

Cooking expert Maki Watanabe says she frequently cooks samgyetang — a Korean soup-based chicken dish — at this bone-sappingly cold time of year.

Unlike the traditional recipe, Watanabe uses chunks of chicken instead of a whole one. This makes it easy for anyone to cook the dish at home. What’s more, her recipe for this simmering hot pot retains an authentic taste.

Many people might think preparing samgyetang entails simmering a whole chicken for hours after stuffing it with ginseng, mochigome glutinous rice and other ingredients. It may come as a delight to hear there is a much easier recipe for the home.

“Using chicken chunks does not take as much effort, because you simply need to simmer the chicken with the other ingredients,” Watanabe said.

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    Sweet pickled ginger

Because chicken bone is needed to produce the broth, Watanabe uses chicken with bones and cuts it into large pieces. It is fine to use chicken thigh or wings.

“Making a cut along the bone will make it easier to pull the meat off when you eat it,” she said. Before simmering, Watanabe sears the chicken in a pan until it browns, which results in a pleasant aroma.

She then adds glutinous rice and lotus roots, which are cut into 1-centimeter-thick quarter circles. The rice thickens the soup and will keep people full for longer.

“I want to keep the distinctive texture of the lotus roots. Cut them a bit thick so they don’t get mushy,” Watanabe said.

Salt is the only seasoning. The full flavor comes from naganegi long onion, ginger, garlic, jujube, chicken essence and Shaoxing rice wine.

“Shaoxing rice wine gives the dish a deeper aroma than cooking sake would,” Watanabe said.

The ingredients need to be simmered on a low heat for a little less than an hour. Stirring is required to prevent the bottom of the soup from burning when it thickens. When stirring, scoop the soup from the bottom of the pan.

Add grated ginger to finish the dish — this will give it a hit of heat — and serve with plenty of white sesame and finely chopped long onion.

The steam has a ginger aroma, and taking a sip of the thick soup will warm people from the inside. The chicken is soft and easily comes off the bone. The lotus roots, sliced a bit larger, also taste great in the soup.

This samgyetang tastes so good that it’d be easy to finish it off without even putting the spoon down.

Recipe for samgyetang

Ingredients (serves 2 or 3):

Large chunk of chicken with bones (400 grams)

2 naganegi long onions

200 grams lotus root

Small piece of ginger, sliced

Small piece of garlic, sliced

2 jujubes

½ cup of mochigome glutinous rice

50cc Shaoxing rice wine

Small piece of ginger, grated

2 tbsp grated white sesame


1. Wash glutinous rice and drain in basket. Slice one long onion diagonally and chop one finely.

2. Chop chicken into large pieces after cutting at joints of bones. Make cuts along bones.

3. Heat 2 tsp sesame oil in pan. Brown chicken on high heat. Add diagonally sliced long onion; sliced garlic and ginger; jujubes; lotus roots quartered into 1-centimeter-thick chunks; glutinous rice; Shaoxing rice wine; and 1 liter water.

4: Boil soup while skimming surface, then turn heat low and simmer for about 50 minutes, stirring frequently. Add ⅔ tsp salt, finely chopped long onion, grated white sesame and grated ginger.

Sweet pickled ginger

Ginger is good for warming the body from the inside. It can be convenient to keep on hand ginger pickled in sweet vinegar.

After thinly slicing a piece of ginger, pour hot water over the slices and drain. Pickle 200 grams of ginger in sweet vinegar made from 100cc of vinegar, 100cc of water, 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of salt.

“It can be enjoyed by itself,” says Watanabe. “It’s also nice chopped and added to stir-fried dishes, or mixed with vinegared rice.”

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