Jook (also called “Chook” and Congee) is a rice porridge soup introduced to Hawaii by Chinese immigrants during the plantation era. It’s now a local tradition to make this soup after Thankgiving with the leftover turkey. Other variations exist such as Chicken (Gai Jook). Also pork and beef, though turkey is by far the most popular version in Hawaii. I’d say it’s like the asian version of Chicken Noodle Soup. Served either as an appetizer, main dish or late night “snack”, it’s the perfect dish to sooth the soul on a cool Hawaiian winter night.
Serving size: A small army or several hungry Jook fans
• Turkey bones (the whole carcass, including some meat still on)
• Turkey meat (whole leftover meat, white and dark), roughly cut into bite-size pieces
• Rice (white medium grain, regular ‘kine like Hinode), rinced, uncooked) – 5-10 cups, depending on size of pot
• Ginger, roughly chopped – 1 large finger
• Chung Choi (preserved salted turnip) You can find this in the asian section of any supermarket in the dry section. Chopped rough (leave the salt on) – 1-2 pieces
• Peanuts (raw, peeled) – amount at your discretion
• Water – enough to cover bones and fill pot
• Cooking Oil – 2 oz. (1/4 cup)
• Hawaiian Salt
Garnishes (see below)
*Keep the pot stirred throughout the steps of this recipe to prevent the bottom from burning.
Turkey bones from a whole turkey (this is actually from 2 turkeys in a VERY LARGE stock pot)
(1.) Brown the turkey bones in large stock pot on stove, using a little cooking oil so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. This should take about 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Browning (don’t burn them!) helps bring out the flavor of the stock.
Roughly slivered fresh ginger (skin still on) and Chung Choi (that round, rolled up stuff)
Basic Jook soup stock simmering
(2.) Once the turkey bones are browned a bit, throw in the slivered fresh Ginger and chopped Chung Choi, then fill the stock pot with hot tap water almost to the top. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low and simmer for at least 2 hours. The longer it simmers, the more flavor you’ll extract out of the bones and ginger. Remove any foam and excess oil off the top (if any) using a large spoon.
Strain all broth ingredients through colander
(3.) After several hours, the broth should have a nice golden yellow and brown color. Now transfer the broth to another stock pot the same size by pouring it through a colander. You MUST remove all the bones, ginger and chung choi by catching it in the colander and discard. These have given up all their flavor and are no longer of value in the Jook.
Rice will add the body to the Jook
(4.) Before adding the raw rice, adjust the strained stock with Kosher or Hawaiian Salt to taste. Remember you can always add, but you can’t subtract, so go gradually until the broth has a full-bodied flavor. If in doubt, slightly undersalt it and adjust it when the Jook is at its final stage. (5.) Now you add the raw rice at a ratio of approximately 1 cup rice per 3-4 quarts of water, depending how thick you like your jook. (6.) This is also the time to add leftover pieces of turkey meat (not the stuff that came out of the turkey stock!). Continued simmering will “loosen” the meat and allow it to distribute in shreds throughout the pot. It will take at least an hour more for the rice to puff up and thicken the Jook. If it seems too “loose”, you can add more (previously cooked) rice and simmer it a bit longer until you reach a slightly desired porridge-like thickness. Make a final taste test and adjust by adding more salt if necessary.
(7.) Serve and enjoy.
Jook tastes great on its own, but it is truly outstanding when you add a variety of garnishes and condiments at the time of serving. Never add these items into the pot. Place a spread of prepared items in small serving bowls at the table and let each person select their own, which they place as toppings in their own Jook bowl and eat with each spoonful.
Here’s a few suggestions…
• Chinese Parsley (a.k.a. Cilantro), rough chopped with stems and/or whole leaves
• Green Onions, chopped
• Chung Choi, rinse salt off and chop fine
• Water Chestnuts, drained and chopped
• Cashews (unsalted), chopped
• Lettuce, shredded
• Won Bok Cabbage, shredded
The garnish and condiment possibilites are up to you.. be creative! Anything from small cubes of Tofu to Bean Sprouts to Japanese Tsukemono to various other types of nuts would work well. Think opposing flavors and textures and it’d likely work really well with Jook. It’s a very flexible dish
A hearty spoonful of Jook with Chinese Parsley garnish and some turkey meat as a bonus! Notice how the rice (that white stuff) has puffed up, gelatinized and thickened the broth.
*In case you might ask, YES, this entire demonstration and bowl of Jook was prepared by yours truly.