Jook – a bowl of memory

I am seriously feeling betrayed by the weather today, I wasn’t expecting it to be so cold all of a sudden.  I figured there is no point in complaining about weather, when there is nothing I can do about it to change it.  When it was hot I thought it was too hot, when it is getting cooler now I think it’s too cold. Every memory of ours is somehow associated with food, when we are happy we eat, when sad we drown ourselves either with something crunchy or a tub of sweet, milky goodness.  I have to stop every so often and tuck my hands in my pocket again so they are not like icicles while typing.  Over the last few days I took up a task to go to war with my pantry, ever since I moved to the house I haven’t had time to organize anything.  It has been one thing after another and I have been crazily happily busy.  There are many wonderful things happening in life, but I had to take a few days off just so I can put some order to the bottles.

I was pretty mad at myself when I realized I had nine cans of coconut milk, fifteen types of salts and I gave up when it came to mustard and honey bottles.  Come to think of it, my chances of getting on Hoarders is better than ever getting on MasterChef.   I thought it was time to put some of the stuff in the pantry to use, one idea was to open all the cans of coconut milk and take a luxurious bath; but that idea was zapped quickly by my cousin.  I had about a cup of long grain rice and lots of chicken stock in the pantry, I remembered a friend of mine mentioning Jook one day and I had to make her repeat it only a few times as I had never heard of it before.  When she explained I realized it was something that we used to drink back home when we were little.  Those were the days when we didn’t worry about carbs because drinking this is like drinking starch on steroids.  We used to call it with two different names, one being paige, which is made by toasted ground rice.  The rice is mixed with water, salt and pepper and let it boil for 20 minutes until it is creamy.  The other was what we called Congee this didn’t deserve the special grinding treatment, and rice for this one is one that is not hulled completely.  The rice is short grain with a hint of redness to it, a little on the sweeter side.  This dish is usually made and eaten when someone is sick, there is no need for sedatives or pills when you have the carb coma to knock you out.

I thought of jook also because my memory told me that my friend found the dish comforting and something she grew up eating.  I realized it later after delivering the food to her that she actually is not a fan of it and never has been.  I put a note to myself to not talk about stuff before having your first cup of coffee.  Regardless I made this with chicken, as the kids will like it.  The only thing I would have done differently next time would be to toast the rice a little prior to add the stock and water.  I read a few recipes online and they all seemed the same one cup of rice to many cups of stock and water.  Even though I would have loved to be all Martha Stewart and keep my own stock in the fridge I can never find enough bones to get the stock made.  I decided to modify the chicken stock I had and added few things to it for an added tasted.  So here is the recipe –

1 cup of long grain rice
4 cups of chicken stock (I am a fan of Trader Joe’s, I added onion, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon, dried shiitake mushrooms  and bell pepper to the stock and let it boil sometime)
6 cups of water
2 lb chicken with bones (thigh and leg pieces, i also added extra as my family loves meat)
Salt and pepper to taste


Take a pot, add all the ing and let it come to a boil.  Lower the heat to a slow boil and let it go for an hour.  The meat should fall of the bone easily in an hour, and the rice is nice and creamy.  Take the meat off the bones chop it up and mix it back with the rice.  Top it with chopped green onions and salted peanuts for a little crunch.

This will warm you up on a cold day.  You can add more stuff to it if you wanted to get creative, next time I am definitely adding corn and mushroom to the mix.  Hope you guys enjoy and stay warm!

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