Beat the heat with Sambok!
To some, summer might be a wonderful time as the sun is shining and everything is nice and warm. To most of us though, it can get too hot! But the Koreans have a festival and creative ways of beating the heat, and that’s where Sambok comes in.
Sambok 삼복 refers to the 3 hottest days of Summer, and signifies the Korean way of dealing with it. In some occasions, it’s also known as Boknal 복날, the dog days of summer. Sambok occurs over an entire month, usually around the 6th to 7th month of the Lunar Calendar.
The 3 important days, or hottest days of Sambok are referred to as chobok 초복 (beginning), jungbok 중복 (middle), and malbok 말복 (last). Chobok is the first day, and 10 days later, would be jungbok. Add another 20 days and we have malbok.
Long ago, back in the past, farmers would take days off from working in the farm as it was just too hot. Instead they would do house chores or go on a small vacation to the mountainsides or a coastal town! There, they may take a relaxing footbath or even a soothing sand bath by the beach.
Now on the to food! People eat Samgyetang 삼계탕 (Chicken Ginseng soup) or Jangeogui 장어구이 (Grilled Eel) during sambok. Way back into the past, they used to eat Dog meat soup a.k.a boshintang 보신탕 (the name literally meaning soup for good health, what an euphemism!) but that is extremely rare nowadays. Be careful when eating Samgyetang (Chicken Ginseng Soup) as you’ll be sweating buckets after you’re done with these dishes.
The Koreans believe that this would ward away all the lethargy you’ve been feeling due to the heat
Despite the sweating, Sambok-special restaurants tend to be packed during summer times! We recommend Tosokchon 토속촌 and Koryo Samgyetang고려삼계탕.
Now here’s a bit of info on Tosokchon.
Though it might be a very old place, the food they serve is to die for. Reservations may even have to be placed 2-3 months in advance! The soup they serve is thicker and richer in taste than most others.
Here’re their details if you’re interested:
- Address: 5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Phone: +82 2-737-7444
- Hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Price: 15,000 won ($13.2 USD)
Now let’s talk about Koryo Samgyetang:
Located in City hall, they sell decent Samgyetang. Though the broth might not be as thick as Tosokchon’s, they do come with a complimentary Ginseng wine shot! This place is an entire building dedicated to selling Samgyetang alone.
Here’s the details if you’re interested:
- Address: 55-3, Seosomun-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Phone: +82 2-752-9376
- Hours: 10:00 am – 9:30 pm