Jook, Juk, Chinese rice soup, rice porridge, congee… these are many names for basically the same food, rice cooked with a lot of water. There are equally as many ways to fix this wonderful comfort food. Jook can be made with plain water and white or brown rice, then served with toppings such as cilantro, sesame oil, chopped peanuts, bits of cooked tofu, soy sauce, chopped hardboiled egg, preserved or cooked vegetables, chives… as little or as much as you’d like. Jook can be prepared with or without salt; I prepare mine without, then grind a little on the top when serving for that little burst of flavor. Jook can be served with cinnamon and sugar for dessert; this is especially nice for those who love rice pudding but don’t want to eat or can’t eat dairy. Commonly eaten as a savory breakfast dish, Jook is also a perfect food for when you are ill. Not only is it comforting and filling, but it is easy to eat for a sore throat, easy on a troubled stomach, nutritious, and if you are a victim of Montezuma’s Revenge (if you know what I mean), rice is very good for helping you to stop going. Ah-hem. Jook is a very good baby food for those little mouths that are just getting into semi-solids.
You can find hundreds of different versions of Jook on the Internet. Many make it with part broth, part water. Some throw in fresh ginger, some cook bones in it for added calcium. Cooking it plain allows you to top each bowl up the way you want, which is what I do. Leftover Jook can be mixed with water to loosen it up, or eaten in its more solid form. You can’t get a much easier comfort food to make that is so versatile. It is particularly good for celiacs (those who cannot eat gluten). With cooler weather upon us, make one dinner a Jook day!
- 1 cup washed white rice (short or long grained depending on your taste)
- 8 cups water (if you like it thick)
- 10 cups water (if you like it medium)
- 12 cups water (if you like it very thin and soupy)
- optional: 1-2 tsp. salt)
- optional: substitute broth for equal parts of the water)
- optional: add a thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger)
- Topping suggestions:
- sesame oil, peanuts, fresh cilantro, chopped hardboiled egg, cooked tofu, seaweed, soy sauce, freshly ground salt and pepper, butter, cooked vegetables, pickled vegetables... leftovers. Also make it sweet with sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried fruit, chocolate chips!
- Put washed rice and the desired amount of water in a dutch oven
- Heat until boiling
- Turn down heat to a simmer and cook uncovered 2½ - 3 hours, depending on how thick or thin you want it.
- Serve hot in small soup bowls with choices of toppings.