What Makes You Strong Under the Burning Sun
Traditional way to endure summer in Korea
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Back in the days when the air conditioner did not exist to avoid the heat of hot summer, Koreans found their escape plans from food. Boknal refers to a particularly hot period during the summer in Korea. Boknal is divided into three periods- chobok, jungbok, and malbok which refer to the first, second, and the third hottest days of summer. Traditionally, Korea was an agricultural society which required strength to farm even under the hot Sun. Thus, Koreans during the summer consumed various foods they believed to be bringing stamina for them during summer.
Boknal cuisine varied upon the social class one belonged to since the Joseon Dynasty. First, people of the royal family could enjoy the privileges that no others could dare to gape for. In fact, they were the only ones able to intake cow- including all meat and milk. For their Boknal food, the royal family of the Joseon Dynasty chose Tarak Stew, which is made of cow milk. Since consumption of cow among people was forbidden by law, this method of stamina improvement on the Boknal was considered exclusive and special.
Among the Yangbans, who belonged to the aristocrat class, Samgyetang was considered to be restoring their health during the hot days of summer. Samgyetang is a chicken soup with ginseng and other oriental ingredients forged in Korean traditional way. First, they cooked Samgyetang by emptying the inner parts of the chicken and filling it up with healthy ingredients such as ginseng, jujube, garlics, and sticky rice. Since chicken was not a cheap poultry to grow in an agricultural society, only the ones with fiscal ability could enjoy Samgyetang.
People from the low class, however, could not obtain valuable meat or ingredients eaten by higher strata. Thus, there were two dishes they could consume- dog meat and red beans. Because dogs were comparatively less productive in farming, people ate bred one dog to share it on Boknal with entire neighbors in the village. Also, red bean soup was popular among farmers on a hot day.
Korea has been denounced by several Western countries due to the culture of regarding dog as food. However, it is important to note that the culture began with the scarcity of protein back in the days. Also, one village took one dog which was bred only for the consuming purpose. Thus, historians of South Korea assert that this culture is not worth being rebuked for. However, there are also suggestions that indiscriminate consumption of dogs under the false hearsay that canine intake is healthy should be halted. Also, many animal activist associations around the world is currently recommending Korea to prepare a legal production procedure of dog meat like cattle, so that those being eaten can die in the most humanitarian way.
In the modern era, the most popular dish on Boknal is Samgyetang. This is because the ingredients added inside the chicken are proven to be healthy. Also, Tarak stew is no longer considered special due to everyday consumption of milk and dog stew’s negative image deters people from having it.
Recipe of Samgyetang
(Video courtesy of Make Food, Eat Food)
Samgyetang restaurants are prevalent in South Korea. However, homemade Samgyetang is also a trend, due to the supply of simple and convenient ingredients. In supermarkets, there are processed chickens and bundles of oriental ingredients sold. Thus, even foreigners can try out Samgyetang in cheaper price with their own style. Restore your stamina well on Boknal!
Kim Ju-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
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