Posted by shinshine

Today is chobok (초복), marking the first of boknal (복날), which are the three hottest days of the year by lunar calendar.  Although chicken is popular in Korea all year long, samgyetang (삼계탕; hot chicken soup with traditional medicinal herbs, including ginseng) is the most popular boknal dish.  My guess is that only a turkey on Thanksgiving would understand how a chicken on boknal feels.  You might understand the concept of yi yeol chi yeol (이열치열; to relieve heat with heat) and accept the Korean custom of eating hot food in the summer.  Even then, if you just can’t take a big bowl of hot chicken soup on a hot sticky day, here is an option for you.

Chogyetang (초계탕) is a chilled chicken soup originated from the northern regions of Korea (which falls in the territory of North Korea).  The name comes from the soup’s main seasoning of vinegar (식초; shik cho) and mustard (겨자; gyeo ja, but pronounced as gye ja with the regional accent).  While it is not as well known as other chicken dishes or summer dishes of Korea, the chilled, tangy broth with well seasoned chicken makes it a great dish that is sure to revive your appetite on a hot summer day.

For a light meal, buckwheat noodle (메밀면; me mil myeon) is often added to the broth, which can be a nice alternative to naengmyeon (냉면), arguably the most popular cold noodle dish in the summer.  For me, a smaller portion with just chicken and crunchy cucumber garnish without the noodles makes it a cooling summer appetizer.

I learned that a proper chogyetang made with some 25 herbs and vegetables was worthy to be part of the royal court cuisine.  Even for a simplified version, it would take a few more steps to make this dish if we didn’t already have chicken stock and shredded chicken meat chilled in the refrigerator as part of eating away a whole chicken.  Now, you can leisurely make it yourself at home with this simplified version of chogyetang.

Chogyetang (Chilled Chicken Soup)

Serves 2

4 cups Chicken Stock
4 tsp. Soy Sauce
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Vinegar
2 tsp. Sugar
Juice from half a lemon
1 cup Shredded Chicken Breast Meat
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
2 cloves Garlic, grated
1 Scallion Stem, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. Honey
Black Pepper, to taste
1 short Cucumber, half moon slices (garnish)
1 Tbsp. Sea Salt (garnish)
Sauteed Mushrooms (garnish, optional)
1 Egg, boiled or fried (garnish, optional)
1 Carrot, julienned (garnish, optional)
Buckwheat Noodles (optional)

Soup Seasoning

If frozen, defrost 4 cups of chicken stock in the refrigerator overnight.  Strain chicken stock for clear broth base.  Add 2 tsp. of soy sauce, 1/4 tsp. of salt, 2 tsp. of vinegar, 2 tsp. of sugar, juice from 1/2 lemon and stir to mix.  Adjust seasoning with salt to taste.  Keep in the refrigerator.

Chicken Seasoning

If frozen, defrost 1 cup of shredded chicken breast meat in the refrigerator overnight.  Mix 2 tsp. of soy sauce, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 2 cloves of grated garlic, 1 finely chopped scallion stem, 1 Tbsp. of fresh grated ginger, 1 Tbsp. honey and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Mix the seasoning with the meat.  Let rest for 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator.

Cucumber Garnish

Cut 1 short cucumber (I used one Kirby cucumber) into half-moon slices and mix with 1 Tbsp. of sea salt.  Let rest for 30 minutes or until the cucumber slices have wilted slightly.  Wash off salt in cold water, drain well, then refrigerate.

Other garnish options) sauteed mushrooms, a boiled or fried egg (white and yolk separately), carrot cut to thin strips

Chogyetang Assembly

Place the chilled broth, seasoned meat, and salted cucumber garnish in 2 bowls.  Float a couple of chicken stock ice cubes and finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

Feel free to add buckwheat noodles (메밀면; me mil myeon), cooked as directed in the package, to the soup.  If you are making it as an appetizer, reduce the stock to 2-3 cups for two portions and adjust the recipe accordingly.

Next, we will finish this chicken series by cooking off the last bag of chicken meat in the freezer, which you should move to the refrigerator to defrost slowly.


summer   여름   (yeo reum)

winter       겨울  (gyeo wul)

garnish     고명  (go myeong)

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