It’s Tuesday and that means the Recipe Edition!
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My nose is cold.
And it’s about time.
Fall around the Bay Area likes to take its time getting here. Just last week, in the middle of October, the temperature was hovering around 90˚ here in Oakland. But today, as I think my cold nose indicates, we might have finally turned the corner and left summer behind. As much as I appreciate the pleasant weather, I am eager to get on with autumn already. Because there’s nothing like a cool, crisp morning to enjoy one of my favorite breakfasts: jook.
Jook, sometimes known as congee, is Chinese rice porridge. It’s a dish found across Asian cultures, from Thailand to Korea. Jook on its own is meant to be a little bland; it works as a canvas for any number of toppings, which vary regionally and culturally. It’s simple to prepare and simple to dress up to your taste. It’s comfort food, a warm and soothing start to the day. It’s medicine for a cold and stuffy sinuses. It’s a calming remedy for a nervous or queasy stomach.
Growing up, I ate jook with traditional Chinese accompaniments: very thin matchsticks of fresh, peeled ginger, cilantro leaves, chopped green onions, soy sauce, white pepper, and a tiny drizzle of toasted sesame oil. But the options are virtually endless, and a list of ideas of how to top your meal follows the recipe.
So as I enjoy all things autumn– the refreshing air, the butternut squashes, the tiny pirates and ballerinas who will make their way to my front door in search of sweets in a couple of weeks– I will also be warming myself (and my cold nose) with a steaming, hot bowl of my favorite fall breakfast.
image: Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan
makes 4-6 servings
1 cup uncooked white rice, long or short grain (Basmati or Jasmine will work fine as well)
½ pound/8 ounces raw pork or chicken bones (optional)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 cups water, plus more as needed
Place all ingredients in a large pot (at least 4-quart capacity). Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let it cook uncovered for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary.
The jook is ready when the rice is cooked to the point of falling apart. The consistency of the finished product is up to you. I like mine like thinned out oatmeal– hearty but brothy. If there is any meat on the bones, pick it off and add it to the mix.
Here are some garnishes you can use to top off your jook:
Image: Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan
toasted sesame oil (just a tiny bit!)
fresh green onions
fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into very thin strips
white or black pepper
a fried or hard-boiled egg
cubes of tofu
cooked, crumbled bacon or chopped Chinese sausage (lop chong)
fresh, hot chile peppers or hot pepper sauce, like Sriracha
fried garlic, shallots, or onions
fresh spinach leaves
chopped green beans, broccoli, or bok choy
fresh carrots, thinly sliced
alfalfa, wheat, radish, or bean sprouts
toasted sesame seeds
togarashi or furikake
dried Chinese mushrooms (cook them along with the jook itself to rehydrate them)
dried or fresh, cooked shrimp or fish
What are your go-to healthy foods?
How do you change your diet based on the season?
Send me your recipe and you may find yourself featured here!
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