Insam widely used in Koreans’ dietary life

March 10, 2023

Today, more and more people use insam in their dietary life following the trend of preventing diseases by bringing health-promoting medicinal materials closer to life, rather than taking medicines after contracting illnesses.

In Pyongyang there are restaurants serving distinctive dishes made with Kaesong Koryo insam, including thick chicken soup, glutinous rice-cake spread with honey, oxtail soup, steamed eggs, broiled shrimps, a dish seasoned with vegetable juice, trepang pickled in vinegar, seasoned turbo, nutritious gruel and white kimchi.

The thick chicken soup, in particular, has a pronounced flavour and aroma as it is made with the recipe of the Kaesong area, the place of origin of insam.

The Koreans have long taken insam decoction and used as restorative foods samgyethang, or a dish of chicken hard boiled with insam, glutinous rice and the whole bulb of garlic in its stomach without applying salt, and thick chicken broth which is made by steaming a chicken with insam in its stomach in a pot. They also took insam hard boiled in glucose syrup or honeyed water, insam tea and insam liquor.

Among them, the thick chicken broth is usually taken by the Koreans and insam liquor is famous worldwide.

A restaurant specializing in samgyethang on Thongil Street in Pyongyang is popular with diners.

According to one of its employees, the speciality of Kaesong produces the best medicinal effects when it is made by hard boiling a four- or five-month-old chicken stuffed with astragalus, dates, glutinous rice and a six-year-old insam.

“The material is brought to the boil over strong heat and then stewed over low fire for about an hour. Then the ingredients of insam come out to blend in well with different components of chicken. The aroma that comes at that time stimulates the appetite of diners,” she said.

O Hyon Nam, a regular customer of the restaurant living in Ragwon-dong of Pothonggang District, Pyongyang, said samgyethang invigorates him remarkably and enables him to pass winter without catching cold. Ri Myong Ok, a retired cook living in Jangchung-dong No. 1 of Songyo District, Pyongyang, said the restaurant’s recipe of samgyethang is unique.


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