Korean-Style Midsummer Day of the Ox
No.2012_04 [ July 3, 2012 ]
Today, I am writing from PIOLAX in Korea. How are you all doing during these hot summer days? In Japan, we have a saying to “eat eel on the midsummer day of the ox” to prevent fatigue from the summer heat. I am in Korea, where they have a day called “ponnaru” which is the same as the midsummer day of the ox in Japan. In all, there are three days, namely the beginning (chobo), middle (chunbo) and end (marubo). This year, they fall on July 18, 28, and August 7. In Korea, on the “ponnaru” day, they eat “Sam Gae Tan” which is the most popular thing to eat to prevent fatigue from the summer heat. You may know this, but “Sam Gae Tan” is a very delicious soup made by stewing rice, Korean ginseng, jujube, chestnuts, ginko and other delicious items together with a whole chicken. Seoul is home to “Tosokuchon” which is said to make the most delicious Sam Gae Tan. Many politicians, including the former president of Korea, Roh Moo Hyun, are said to come incognito to eat at this restaurant. Regardless of the time of day, Tosokuchon always has a line of patrons waiting to get in and eat, which is quite unusual in Korea. I first learned about this restaurant five years ago. The fastest I’ve been able to get in is 15 minutes, but I’ve also had to wait one hour.
This is Tosokuchon’s Sam Gae Tan. It’s really too bad that I cannot let you taste or smell it. The feature of Sam Gae Tan comes from the flavor of the soup. Also, the quantity is adequate. Almost half of the people who eat it cannot finish it completely. If you order anything else, such as jijim or beer, you’ll most likely be unable to finish the Sam Gae Tan.
I’ve heard before that the correct way to eat this is to add the right amount of salt and pepper in a small bowl, and to touch the chicken to the salt to eat it. However, my recommended method is to add just the right amount of salt and pepper to the soup. With the right amount of salt added, the soup and meat are the best. If you have never had Tosokuchon’s Sam Gae Tan, I highly recommend that try this dish that is a favorite of the President of Korea. I came here again today, using this report as my excuse! It was excellent. Thank you for the great meal !
July 3, 2012
Special Correspondent in Korea: O