Samgyetang (Korean Soup)

This approachable version of the restorative Korean soup uses ginger and shallot in the broth, and substitutes cooked rice for the more classic glutinous sticky rice. Traditional Samgyetang is a made with a whole small chicken or Cornish game hen, ginseng root and jujubes. It is traditionally made during the height of summer to "fight fire with fire" on the hottest days of the lunar year.
Save Recipe
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
Share This Recipe



1 cup cooked white rice, cooled

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 

4 cloves garlic (2 minced, 2 smashed and peeled)

Kosher salt

Two 1 1/2-pound Cornish game hens, wingtips and giblets removed and discarded

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth  

4 shallots, peeled and halved 

One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into 3 pieces and bruised with flat blade of a knife   

6 scallions, white and light green parts left whole and reserved, green tops finely sliced for serving  

1 teaspoon sugar  

For Serving:

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon white vinegar   

4 teaspoons sesame seeds (white or black)  

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil  

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  

1 package seaweed snacks, thinly sliced 

1 cup kimchi, chopped   


  1. Put the cooked rice in a medium bowl. Heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is toasted and golden brown, 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the garlic and sesame oil over the rice. Set the pot aside. Season the rice with 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir with a fork until combined, breaking up any lumps.
  2. Stuff the cavity of each hen with 1/2 cup of the rice mixture. Overlap the skin flaps to enclose the rice inside the hens, fold the legs closed and tie with kitchen twine.
  3. Place the hens breast-side down in the reserved pot and add the chicken broth, 2 cups water, shallots, ginger, scallion whites, smashed garlic cloves, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming the foam that rises to the top. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then use a spatula and a spoon to gently turn the hens breast-side up, being careful not to break the skin (they will float). Continue to simmer, partially-covered, until the hen breasts are firm and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F, 15 to 20 minutes more.  
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauces. Combine the soy sauce and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the sesame oil, sesame seeds, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in another small bowl and set aside.   
  5. Using a slotted spoon and tongs, remove the hens from the liquid, place them on a cutting board and remove the kitchen twine. Slice along the top of the breastbone to cut each hen into 2 halves, keeping the rice inside the cavity. Strain the broth through a sieve. Place each hen half in a wide, shallow bowl (rice side down) and divide the soup among the bowls. Garnish the soup with scallion greens and serve with the sesame sauce, soy-vinegar sauce, kimchi and seaweed.