Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samyetang)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted – partly the usual excuse of busyness is still in operation and also I’ve been cooking a bit less of late. I had a bit of a struggle with my sugars lately and I finally decided to try OMAD (one meal a day) to see if I could manage the insulin requirements better. And since helper D usually makes dinner and if I’m at home I’m the one making lunch, I haven’t really put any effort into cooking because after all I don’t eat lunch now!

Anyway it’s the weekend and I had a hankering for Korean ginseng chicken soup. Weekends are when I do have both lunch and dinner instead of the one meal a day. I usually can’t eat ginseng chicken soup because the chicken is usually stuffed with glutinous rice, but it’s one of the nicest soups I’ve ever had. I remember one of my food epiphanies was in Daegu, which is a region in Korea that seems to be more traditional than Seoul. When I went exploring the restaurants, what struck me was that each restaurant would specialize only on 1 item – like a restaurant would only serve ginseng chicken soup, or another restaurant would only do tofu soup. Because of this, I tasted some of the best Korean food in my life – I swear, even better than what I had been exposed to in Seoul.

Anyway I’m Asian and I love soup. Any kind of soup! Korean ginseng chicken soup is amazing and I love the hint of ginseng in the soup that is not overpowering like some of our more herbal type of Chinese double boiled soups. I used shirataki rice to stuff the chicken, which compared to glutinous rice, would never give a starchy thickness to the soup. Still, the flavor was simple and delicate and the family really loved it.

Using a shirataki rice as stuffing is a little tricky as it wouldn’t expand or become sticky with cooking, unlike regular rice. So to prevent the stuffing from escaping the chicken cavity, I didn’t just tie the drumsticks together, but also used sharp toothpicks to secure the overlying chicken skin to seal the cavity. This did work pretty well and I didn’t have much escaped stuffing in the broth.

This is one of the few recipes I would much rather do over the stove than in an Instant Pot because you want the chicken to be just done and not over cooked (which sometimes happens in pressure cooking). The extra heat and sweat was well worth it! I was transported back to the richness of Samyetang in Korea and the memory of comfort food on cool autumn evenings.

See the pearly shirataki rice spilling out of the chicken!

Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 whole chicken (about 1 kg)
  • 1 packet shirataki rice
  • 5 dried red dates
  • 5 gingko nuts
  • 2 dried ginseng roots
  • white part of 2 sprigs of spring onion
  • 5 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 medium onion, peeled and not chopped
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • green part of spring onions (1-2 inch pieces) for garnishing


  1. Clean the chicken well and cut off the chicken feet and neck.
  2. Drain the shirataki rice and rinse off the lime water. Dry fry in a non-stick skillet to remove the water. Set aside.
  3. In the meantime, soak the dates in hot water for about 20 minutes.
  4. Fill the cavity of the chicken with 3 dates, 3 cloves of garlic and the shirataki rice. Pack the rice in with a spoon. Bring the 2 edges of the chicken skin by the side of the cavity togethher ans secure with sharp tooth picks. Secure the drumsticks (cross the legs over each other) with kitchen twine.
  5. Place the chicken into a pot and fill the pot with water till the chicken is covered. Add the half onion, white part of the spring onions, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 dates and 2 pieces of ginseng root and 1-1.5 tsp of salt.
  6. 6.Simmer on medium low heat for 45-50 minutes. If your chicken could not be fully immersed by the water you may want to flip the chicken over halfway. Also periodically skim off the scum that rises to the top of the soup.
  7. When done, take the chicken out and put into a casserole dish. Top with the green parts of spring onions and ladle the soup over. To serve, cut the breast along the breast bone to allow access to the stuffing. Serve hot.


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