Yummy and Durable

Ginseng-Fortified Stickiness

The dog days of summer are approaching, and I’ve got samgyetang on my mind. A whole chicken, ginseng, and sticky rice make the dish irresistible when the heat rises past the point where even fans can relieve me. Not only does sticky rice stick to the ribs, but it’s one organic half of the world’s first super cement.

The mortar was stronger and more resistant to water than pure lime mortar, and what Zhang termed one of the greatest technological innovations of the time. Builders used the material to construct important buildings like tombs, pagodas, and city walls, some of which still exist today. Some of the structures were strong enough to shrug off the effects of modern bulldozers and powerful earthquakes.

Their research identified amylopectin, a type of polysaccharide, or complex carbohydrate, found in rice and other starchy foods, as the “secret ingredient” that appears to be responsible for the mortar’s legendary strength.

“Analytical study shows that the ancient masonry mortar is a kind of special organic-inorganic composite material,” the scientists explained. “The inorganic component is calcium carbonate, and the organic component is amylopectin, which comes from the sticky rice soup added to the mortar. Moreover, we found that amylopectin in the mortar acted as an inhibitor: The growth of the calcium carbonate crystal was controlled, and a compact microstructure was produced, which should be the cause of the good performance of this kind of organic-organic mortar.”

Filed under: East Asia, Korea, Science Tagged: glutenous rice, samgyetang, sticky rice