How To Cool Off With Food

Hot and cold recipes for warm days.

Illustration Hisashi Okawa
July 27, 2017
How To Cool Off With Food
Hot Food For Hot Days

A few months back I was eating Uzbeki food in Manhattan’s Diamond District with my friend Matt when he mentioned something I’d never heard before: samgyetang, hot soup meant to be eaten in the summer. Koreans say eating it on “sambok” days — reputedly, the three hottest days of the year — can prevent sickness. Matt, a Korean dude from Michigan, had grown up eating it at home. For my own taste I went to Kunjip, in Koreatown. The soup was a delight; the meat fell off the bone. After, I walked into the breathless furnace of midtown, the soup-infused sweat dripping down the side of my head with joy and purpose. I don’t want to get ahead of myself; I didn’t even eat the soup on a real sambok day. But so far, at least, since tasting the powerful samgyetang I — knock on wood — haven’t so much as sneezed.

For your own version, try this recipe adapted from KoreanBapsang, a recipe blog written by a Korean-American mom named Hyosun.

1 cornish hen

1 ginseng root

3 tbsp. soaked sweet rice

6 garlic cloves

1 thin ginger slice

3 dried red dates

Stuff the chicken with rice/two garlic cloves and cross/tie legs together.

Place chicken, ginger, dates, ginseng, and the rest of the garlic in a pot. Bring to boil over medium heat. Skim foam off top. Cover and boil for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and boil for 20-30 minutes.

Serve with scallions, salt, and pepper.

Cold food for hot days

While some naive westerners might limit their idea of Indian food to scorching curries and stews, there’s a wealth of chiller stuff to eat and cook that’s perfect for the warmer months. As my friend Shreya recommended to me, there’s nothing better than kulfi to take the edge off a heatwave. A perfect replacement for a boring, watery popsicle, it’s a frozen confection with beautifully synthesized elements of pistachios, cardamom, and saffron. You’ll never wait outside for the ice cream truck again.

This kulfi recipe was adapted slightly from the extra cute CookingShooking YouTube channel.

1 liter of milk

4 tbsp. of cream

1/2 cup sugar

3 threads of saffron

4 pods of cardamom

2 tsp. ground cardamom

1/2 cup ground pistachio nuts

1/4 cup chopped almonds

Bring the milk to a boil then reduce to simmer.

Bloom the saffron in a small amount of the warm milk and then add the in the cream.

Reduce by just about half and then add in the nuts, spices, sugar, and saffron. Stir to combine. (You can also add in blended mango or passionfruit at this stage if you want to be extra.)

Cook the mixture for a bit and then let it cool down almost completely.

Put the mix into molds — or a Ziploc bag if you don’t have fancy popsicle receptacles — and pop ‘em into the freezer.

After five or six hours in the freezer you’ll have some good old Kulfi.

Serve in a bowl with some more pistachios on top and add a maraschino cherry if you’re feeling cutesy about it.


How To Cool Off With Food