Thanks to the wet, hot, humid, sticky, and damned weather, my days now usually consist of walking around like a damp cloth, taking power naps, and sprawling in front of a huge air conditioner for a good hour before heading out. And I’m not the only one…most people nowadays will feel this way every year and they usually blame the hot weather…there is even a Korean saying about it “더위를 먹다” (deo-ui leul moek da) which means “eat the warm heat”. Hence by saying ‘eating the heat’ it will explain why they look so energyless…or maybe it’s just an excuse for my students to sleep in my class~ (Side note: Long wooden sticks are so handy…)
So everytime we leave the house, why does it feel like our souls have just left our bodies? Yes, the weather is mostly to blame but more so because of our choice of diets. Our natural response will be to munch down on ice cubes once we break a sweat. However excessive consumption of cold foods will cause internal warmth to leave the body and our blood circulation won’t be as efficient as before. Therefore we lose our appetites and end up looking like zombies after a nap.
One of the best foods to restore back that warmth is Samgyetang (삼계탕)! For those who don’t know yet, Samgyetang is a bowl of hot broth with a whole chicken which is stuffed with glutinous rice, ginseng, jujube, ginkgo nut, and garlic. To be honest it looks more like a chicken that just undergone its first prostate exam =S . Anyways…there is a saying in Korea that by fighting the heat you must fight it with heat as well. This is called ‘yi yeol chi yeol’ (이열치열). You may have already heard a lot about Samgyetang, as it is packed with SO much goodness (nutrient wise).
Samgyetang is usually eaten at the hottest days of summer: Chobok, Jungbok and Malbok (collectively known as Sambok). Chobuk and Jungalbok has just passed, however Malbok will be on the 12th August this year so relieve the heat Korean style and visit your local Samgyetang restaurant on this day!
Now being a picky food eater…of course I would want to eat good quality Korean foods! But how can you tell which Samgyetang is better quality than the other? The secret lies in the oil color! If the oil is colorless it means the ingredients used are of high quality. If the oil is white or any other color it means the ingredients used are of low quality, hence it has a lower nutrition value.
Another important note is that not everyone should eat the ginseng which is stuffed inside the chicken! Those who have a cold body can feel free and nibble as much as they want, however those who have a warm body should avoid eating too much. So how do you know whether you have a warm body or not? Well, those with warm bodies almost always drink cold water over warm water when thirsty and vice versa for the cold bodies. If a person with a warm body eats a lot of ginseng, they will be over-nutritioned, so they will have trouble sleeping that night!
Seriously, nights out with my Korean Mother are the best as I get to know more Korean secrets…muahahahhaa