복날 (bok nal): the dog days

samgyetang - chicken ginsengIt’s summer in Korea and yesterday was one of the hottest days ever (in my book) even if it wasn’t a “bok nal” or “dog days”. “Bok nal” refers to the three hottest days of summer, based on the lunar calendar. This year, the first bok nal called “cho bok” is on July 15; the second one called “jung bok” is July 25 and the last one, called “mal bok” is on August 14. On these days, Koreans prepare special food said to strengthen the bodies during those hot days.

“Boshintang/mongmongtang/yeongyangtang” or “dog stew” is eaten for the “bok nal”. Koreans believe that dog meat ensures good health during the summer days. Now, most prefer to have “samgyetang” or “ginseng chicken”, a spring chicken stuffed with glutinous rice and boiled with ginseng roots, chestnuts, dates, garlic, onion and leeks. I just love samgyetang that I have it not only in the summer but during the cold days as well. I love eating it with newly made kimchi!

During the summer season, Koreans prepare special food to cool them down. More on this later.

Here’s a recipe for samgyetang/ginseng chicken from the koreankitchen.

11 comments

  1. hi, betchay! i’m just wondering why the price of beef is so high in korea. when i watch kdramas, they always mention of eating beef during special ocassions. a vet friend said that korea’s cattle industry is one of the smallest in the world. they’re also so paranoid about importing beef for fear of mad cow etc. etc. and yet, they have no qualms about eating dog food! why is this so?

  2. Goodness, ellen! I hope you are joking. Why would you make such an assumption? I don’t live in Korea but I don’t think they eat dog food there!

  3. @ellen >> korea has recently started importing beef from the US… australian beef is also available in korea but for them, the best beef is “han-u” or korean beef… it’s really expensive! if you go to a “han-u” restaurant, expect to pay 25,000 won ($26) for a 200 g order of beef… for koreans, “han-u” is the best beef (not really sure though since i’ve had better beef elsewhere)… regarding dog meat, not a lot of koreans eat them as much as before… in my husband’s family, only his father eats dog meat, and it’s also very expensive so they usually just eat it during the summer… last month, my sister-in-law bought dog meat for my FIL and it costs 200,000 won ($200)

  4. This is interesting. I’ve been watching the Kdrama Scent of a Woman and she rescued a dog named “Mal Bok”(according to the captions) who apparently was going to be eaten on Mal Bok…or bok nal.
    I was confused about the actual stance on eating dog meat in Korea but your response to Ellen clears things up a bit. Do people in Korea raise dogs for their meat, or are there wild dogs? It seems strange that some would raise dogs for meat while others keep them for pets

  5. I am Korean and I don’t know where you got the “dog day” from but it is not true. I don’t know where you live (maybe somewhere countryside of korea, not city) anyways, I am very uncomfortable with your “dog day” expression. Would you please remove the “dog day” from your post. because of you, many people will misunderstand about korean traditional culture. If you have any issue with it please reply and let me know.

    1. Hi Chloe! Thank you for visiting and for leaving a comment. Yes, I live in the countryside, in a small remote village that is only accessible by a boat. The population in our village is only 20, but because of Korea’s broad internet coverage I could afford to blog. Anyway, my husband is also Korean and he said there is nothing offensive about my post as I only stated facts. Of course, he knows what the English phrase “dog days” means. If you could just tell me in particular what you find is offensive then I might reconsider. I am a fair person.

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