Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Jook

Monday night I was kind of hoping to go out, but Ann still isn't feeling well. I grabbed a couple of chicken thighs at the store on the way home to make some stock and ultimately a pot of jook, one of China's great contributions to the world. Jook is a rice porridge that hits the spot when you are not feeling well, such as when you have the flu, Irish or otherwise. Often served as a breakfast food, jook is used comparably in China to the way we use grits, porridge, oatmeal, or cream of wheat.

Jook with Zha Cai and Sesame Oil
Jook doesn't really need a recipe as it is merely rice overcooked in a lot of liquid and seasoned any way that you want. I use short-grained rice and a chicken stock-to-rice ratio of about 4:1. I'm not super good about measuring things.

2 quarts of chicken stock
8-10 slabs fresh ginger
2 cups of short-grained sushi rice
salt to taste

How you come by your chicken stock is up to you. I always poach chicken thighs or legs in water with a lot of slabs of ginger to get my stock, ginger being good for you especially when you are ill. Bring your strained chicken stock to a rolling boil and add the rice, stirring well. The rice will start to swell after a couple of minutes and I turn the pot way down low and walk away. Perhaps I will stir it every 20 minutes. 90 minutes seems to be about the appropriate cook time for the rice I use: the rice should no longer have any real texture. Add more liquid if necessary to yield a porridge in which a spoon will not stand. Season to taste.

You can garnish your jook anyway that you see fit. If I'm sick, I don't want anything in it. Otherwise, I like to garnish with some of the chicken meat used in making the stock, some sautéed shiitakes or some rehydrated black mushrooms, pickled mustard stems (zha cai), cilantro, and often, a drizzle of sesame oil.

Last night, I just went for a pile of zha cai, a bit of cilantro, and a drizzle of sesame oil. I think Ann just had hers with a pat of butter and some salt. Jook is a classic comfort/invalid food that should be in your repertoire.

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