Congee (aka “jook” aka gruel)

From David Kodeski
Serves 12

Congee, or jook, is a thick rice porridge found all over Asia in various iterations. It’s a popular breakfast dish in Cambodia and Malaysia, sickbed food in Korea and Japan, and a classic late-night snack just about everywhere. It can be a thick paste or a watery gruel; spicy with ginger and chiles or bland enough for a fussy baby. David made it for the first time ever for Soup & Bread, and it was utterly delicious. Like all good comfort food, he says, all measurements and timings are more by “feel” than set in stone.


For the stock:

1 or 2 good-sized chickens – cut up
3 or 4 turkey legs + 1 or 2 turkey wings
fresh ginger – cut into chunks and given a good smash
sesame oil
white onions (quartered)
white pepper
black peppercorns
sea salt

For the congee:

4 quarts chicken and turkey stock
1 -2 cups rice (short grain, long grain, or a combination of both)
fresh ginger
sesame oil

(Mix and match – the possibilities are essentially limitless. Some suggestions follow – though I think ginger, sesame oil, cilantro, and scallions are essential!)

sesame oil
soy sauce
scallions, sliced
fresh ginger – peeled, julienned
slices of Thai or jalapeno chili peppers
shredded chicken & turkey
shredded pork
cooked shrimp
diced Chinese sausage
black fungus mushrooms, rehydrated
fresh cilantro
fresh parsley
ground peanuts
preserved egg
chili oil
fish sauce
oyster sauce


To make the chicken stock: Place cut up chicken (include giblets & neck), ginger, roughly ½ teaspoon sesame oil, 3-4 white onions, and 10-20 black peppercorns in a stock pot. Add water, salt liberally, and set on a high flame. Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer, skimming foam as it rises.

When chicken breast pieces are cooked through, remove from stockpot. Allow to cool, remove meat, return bones to pot.

Continue to slowly simmer stock for 2 hours or more. Strain and discard solids.

To make the turkey stock: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place turkey legs and wings in a shallow roasting pan. Liberally season with salt and white pepper. Cover with aluminum foil.

Roast legs and wings, covered, for approximately 1 hour. Uncover, turn legs and wings over and continue roasting, uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour more.

When done, remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove meat and place bones and other ingredients (same as for chicken stock) in stock pot. Follow instructions for chicken stock above.

For the congee: Bring stock, 1-2 cups rice, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and several slices of fresh ginger to a boil in a large pot. Reduce to VERY LOW SIMMER.

Stir frequently. Stir often. Keep stirring. Check it every few minutes. Stir.

Add more stock if necessary.

The rice will eventually swell, soften, and break up. Eventually (after 2-3 hours or so) the congee will resemble a very thin risotto or oatmeal. Salt if needed.

Serve up with your choice of assorted condiments.

Congee can be made a day in advance, reheat with additional stock.


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