Sunday, August 22, 2021

[Food] Yongbongtang (Carp/Softshell Turtle and Chicken Soup, 용봉탕)


[Food] Yongbongtang (Carp/Softshell Turtle and Chicken Soup, 용봉탕)

No one knows when Koreans first cooked yongbongtang (Carp/Softshell Turtle and Chicken Soup, 용봉탕), though the common belief is that it was written in a book and song in 19th century Korea. Given the evidence within 19th century books and songs, food historians in Korea estimate that yongbongtang was first cooked in the latter period of the Chosun dynasty by the royal court and affluent families.

The Chinese character 'Yong(龍)' means 'dragon', and 'bong(鳳)' means 'phoenix', because Koreans likened carp and soft-shell turtle to dragon and old chicken to phoenix. That's how yongbongtang was given its fancy name. Maybe it started in the kitchen of the royal court as food for stamina for the king and the royal family.

One day, Yongbongtang's recipe spread among the common people, and so yongbongtang became native cuisine in some regions and cities. It requires many expensive ingredients, including carp or softshell turtle, old chicken, abalone, intestine, tenderloin, head of the cow, sea cucumber and more. Typical yongbongtang uses carp and old chicken, but the south-eastern city of Gwangju uses a soft-shell turtle and old chicken.

Its recipe is not complicated. As it's 'soup', you just trim, dress and chop ingredients, then throw them into a big pot to boil for some hours. The challenge is dressing carp or soft-shell turtle, which can be a disgusting process for some people.

Yongbongtang tastes similar to typical Korean chicken soup with the scent of herbs, but it has a thicker and more savory meat and marine flavor. There are not many Korean restaurants that cook yongbongtang, and it's very expensive because carp, soft-shell turtle and abalone are all expensive.

If you are looking for exotic stamina food in Korea, yongbongtang might be a good choice for you :)

Bon Appétit! 

1 comment:

  1. "Stamina food" I love that expression! Beautiful article, as always.