What is Pok-nal?

poknalIt’s the first day of pok-nal today in Korea, said to be the hottest time of the summer. So to feel comfortable in the heat, it’s traditional to eat samgetang, chicken and ginseng soup.


samgetang, chicken and ginseng soup.

I liked the presentation of this soup – there’s a whole chicken in the soup with ginseng and glutinous rice, jujube fruit, garlic, ginger, and lots of leek. It has a mild flavour and comes with a small bowl of salt to dip pieces of chicken in. This one has a nice big pile of raw finely sliced leek on top. :) 

So what’s pok-nal?

The hottest part of the summer in Korea is considered to be around mid July to the beginning of August. The first day of this hot season is called cho-bok (초복)  the actual date changes every year as of course we have to follow the Lunar calendar but this year it’s today, July 19th.

The temperature in Seoul at the moment is 86ºF (30ºC) so not too bad, but hot enough. The middle of the hot season is chung-bok (중복) on July 29th and the end is called mal-bok (말복) on August 8th. Because it’s hot in the summer people can feel sluggish and low on energy so as this dish is full of good things, it’s supposed to make us healthy and strong during this period. It follows the traditional medicine theory of fighting heat with heat.

Don’t go to a samgyetang restaurant on poknal! 

However, I don’t recommend going to a samgyetang restaurant on poknal though. I did it  once. Never again. There was a huge line of people waiting outside our local samgyetang restaurant and after waiting for quite some time we had to squeeze into our seats amongst the heaving crowd of customers. Then we were told that they weren’t serving everything on the menu. They were only serving the basic samgyetang as they were too busy to faff around with different orders. I was not pleased :(

I made a note to myself: next time we go for samgyetang on the day after Poknal (well surely any day in summer is fine) And I bet there won’t be a queue to get in. 😉



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