I have been making this Korean chicken soup (영계백숙 Young Gye BaekSook) for 20 years now – ever since I got married. It’s my husband’s favorite soup and according to my mother-in-law, it is one of the best foods for him. She also told me a whole list of other foods but that’s probably worth a whole different blog…What I do know is that whenever my husband feels worn out, tired or has terrible allergies, this soup definitely helps him recover pretty quickly. It’s also another one of my daughter’s favorite and she’s been asking for it so here it is.
There are mainly 3 variations of the clear Korean chicken soup having various names:
- Young gye baek suk(영계백숙) – soup made with young chicken without any additional herbal ingredients
- Dak baek suk (닭백숙) – soup made with adult chicken without any additional herbal ingredients
- Sam gye tang(삼계탕) – soup made with young chicken using ginseng, dates and sweet rice stuffing
As you can imagine, sam gye tang is a lot more involved but young gye baeksuk is quite simple to do:
Difficulty: easy Servings: 4 Prep time: 15 min Cooking time: 35-40 min
- 1 cornish game hen (or young chicken 2-3 lbs) – should be thawed in fridge over night if frozen
- 1 whole head of garlic, peeled (or 8-10 cloves of garlic)
- 1 whole onion, peeled
- 3 green onions
- salt and pepper
- sauce for chicken – 1 T dark soy sauce(진간장) + 1 tsp vinegar
- Cornish game hen works best. It is tender and has less fat. If you can buy fresh, unfrozen ones that’s great. If not, buy the frozen ones and it’s fine as long as you thaw it fully. If cornish hens are not available you can also buy small, young chicken. Best way to thaw is to leave in the refrigerator overnight or 10 hrs. If you have less time, you can also put the chicken(still wrapped) in cold water to thaw for 3-4 hrs. If you are really short on time, you can also thaw the chicken in the microwave but it’s really not recommended.
- Cut off the wing tips, neck and the tail end. My mom told me that the wing tips and the tail end are bad for you so why eat it since there’s not much to eat there anyway. If the chicken has any giblets inside the stomach, discard it. There may be quite a bit of fat near the breast area or near the bottom, trim the fat as much as you can. Wash the chicken well under running water and pat it dry.
- Prepare the garlic – if you have a whole bulb, soak it in water and peel them.
- Peel the onion and leave it whole.
5. Add chicken, garlic, onion and 7 C of cold water to pot and bring to a boil.
6. Simmer at medium low or low heat for 35 min for smaller chicken (less than 2 lb) and 40 min for chicken larger than 2 lbs. Check if chicken is fully cooked by piercing the area between the thigh and the belly to see if any blood comes out. Cook a few minutes longer if you see any redness.
7. Take the chicken out onto a plate and let it cool a couple minutes. Chop up the green onions into small pieces (1/3 in). Serve the soup, rice, pieces of the chicken and green onions in a bowl. Serve with salt and pepper so it can be seasoned at the table. Also make some vinegar-soy sauce for dipping the chicken meat if people want to eat the meat alone without the soup. You can also serve chicken with salt and pepper and people can dip the chicken pieces in salt/pepper mix instead of the soy sauce dip. Finally serve some kimchi and dried roasted seaweed and you have a complete, delicious and healthy dinner!!
Tip: Do NOT overcook the chicken. Smaller the chicken, the shorter the cooking time should be. Keep testing by poking the chicken once 35 min. has past. Overcooking the chicken will make it taste mushy and pasty.