Jook, a Chinese rice soup also known as congee, is one of the first foods I turn to when I feel my immune system could use a little boost. Simmered with fresh ginger, which adds flavor and curative properties, this jook can take on a range of textures, from very broth-y to quite thick; you can control the amount of water you add to get the consistency you like.. I like mine on the thicker side, like oatmeal, but kind of soupy.
The range of toppings is up to you, too. My classic trio is soy sauce, white pepper, and green onions, but I also like to use fresh cilantro and maybe some fresh spinach, too. Pretty much anything in your kitchen is a candidate to be a jook topping: eggs, meat, vegetables, herbs, spices.
I don't just limit my consumption of jook to when I'm under the weather -- it's one of my favorite things to have for breakfast. —vvvanessa
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Vvvanessa is the author of the food blog Hungreem.
WHAT: A gingery Chinese rice soup you can make your own.
HOW: Cook white rice with ginger, chicken or pork bones, and salt for 90 minutes, until the rice is nearly falling apart. Remove the mixture from the flame, take out the bones, then serve with your favorite toppings. Choose from soy sauce, chile, green onions, herbs, Chinese sausage, or additional spices.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This jook is impossible not to love, since it can be easily altered to personal taste -- it's the ideal vehicle for your favorite vegetables, proteins, and condiments. Choose your own adventure and alter the consistency and toppings -- or let the gingery goodness speak for itself, and enjoy it plain. —The Editors
1 cup uncooked white rice, long or short grain (basmati or jasmine will work fine, as well)
raw pork or chicken bones (optional)
nub peeled ginger, about the size of a wine cork
water, plus more as needed
Optional garnishes: soy sauce or tamari, sesame oil, chile oil or chile sauce like Sriracha, green onions, cilantro, thinly sliced carrots or ginger, minced Chinese sausage (lop chong), ground white pepper, fresh chopped spinach, tofu
Place all ingredients (except the optional garnishes) into a large pot with at least a 4-quart capacity. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let cook uncovered for 60 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary.
The jook is ready when the rice is cooked to the point of nearly falling apart. The consistency of the finished product is up to you -- add more water if you prefer a broth-y, rather than a thick, consistency. Just add a little more water or cook it a little longer to suit your taste.
Remove the bones, if added, then garnish with your favorite toppings, and serve piping hot.