Under the Cloud Cover

Now that fall is here, it’s pretty much going to be cloudy season until July 5th. That’s the joke anyway. Whether it’s the changing of the seasons, or a lowered immune system for some reason, I’ve been on the mend from a cold. Because of my cold I’ve had a lowered appetite, and decreased energy to care about doing anything. Much of the past week was eating varieties of chicken soup, hoping the restorative properties as part of the folklore that surrounds chicken soup might help. I don’t think the chicken soup helped me get any better, but it did taste good and felt good on my stomach.

I’m not a big fan of western style chicken soups, so went for Korean chicken ginseng soup (samgyetang). I had made it a couple times before, but this time I loosely followed Judy Joo’s recipe from Korean Food Made Simple. It was somewhat frustrating in preparation though. The last thing I felt like doing was going shopping for the ingredients, then preparing the soup. However, my craving for chicken soup trumped how crappy I felt. I was able to find most of the ingredients at my local asian market. The only thing that was missing was the ginseng root. I almost gave up on the ginseng, but remembered that there was a small Korean market not too far away from home, so I stopped in.

I was glad I went into the market! It was tiny, but look what I was able to find! They sold in packets the dried ingredients for the chicken soup. I wish I had found this before I had bought the other ingredients that were in the packet. It even includes the glutinous rice that is used.

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Here are the rest of the ingredients I used for the soup. Starting on the top left and going clockwise: two cornish game hens, Japanese long green onion, packets of dried ingredients for the chicken ginseng soup, fresh jujubes, fresh chestnuts, glutinous (sweet) rice, garlic, and young ginger. I opted for the young ginger because I like the milder flavor. See the recipe from Judy Joo for the approximate amounts of each ingredient to use.

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With exception of the onion, I stuffed the two birds with everything else. I chopped up the ginger, garlic, jujube (and removed its seed), and chestnut (removing outer peel and skin). I soaked some rice in water for an hour before stuffing into the bird.

 

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I had extra ingredients left, so I got a piece of cheesecloth and put the rest of everything in it. I tied it up loosely so the rice would have room to expand, and then also cut one of the green onions lengthwise to tie it onto the end of the cheesecloth

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Then I threw everything in a pot with water, and a couple packets of ginseng tea. Then I let the soup cook for three hours until the chicken just came off the bone. The result:

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Even though it wasn’t all that fun to buy or cook the soup, the result was worth the trouble. It also wasn’t overly complicated to make like other chicken soups. I think the hardest part was trying to thaw the frozen cornish game hens (thankfully they didn’t come with the innards to have to deal with), and of course buying the ingredients. I bought an extra packet of the dried ginseng so I’ll be more prepared for the next time I get a cold, which I hope isn’t for a long time.

In other news, I’m taking the Japanese Proficiency Language Test in December! I’m taking the N5 exam, which is the easiest exam (there are 5 exams, N1 being the hardest). I’m doing it partially to gauge how well my Japanese is after I started re-taking classes at the beginning of the year, and I’m also doing it to try and study even more. So I’m taking two Japanese classes now, which has been pretty tough with a full-time job. September-December are the busiest months of the year in my industry too. So it’s been super tough!

Finally, I bought a new manga (Japanese comic) that is focused on Japanese sweets! It’s called Wagashi no An (和菓子のアン) .  I haven’t really read any of it yet, but the general basis is there’s this girl who really loves Japanese confectionery and starts working at a Japanese confectionery store!

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