Cooking in Quarantine: Shelter-In-Place Jook

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Jook, often known as congee, was the final word consolation meals for me as a Chinese-American child rising up within the American Midwest.

We would eat it for breakfast with an array of small dishes like floor fried fish or pork floss, thousand-year preserved duck eggs, pickles, shao bing (sesame coated sizzling pockets) or youtiao, fried sticks of dough.

Another widespread variation is to make jook with an entire rooster till the meat falls off the bone with a bunch of inexperienced onions and ginger.

Jook was additionally one thing served plain once I was sick; it crammed my stomach when it couldn’t deal with something seasoned or oily.

Jook - Alice Wong

Alice’s selfmade jook, often known as congee [Photo courtesy of Alice Wong] 

It may very well be thick like oatmeal or soupy, relying in your style. I all the time loved the thicker consistency and would scoop giant bites with a conventional blue-and-white ceramic Chinese teaspoon patterned with little translucent grains of rice.

As my household and I began sheltering in place this March, our rice cooker stays our fixed pal all through these tough occasions.

It by no means lets us down and permits us to prepare dinner a meal in a single pot set on the excellent time and temperature. The variations are countless with jook – savoury, candy, vegan, vegetarian. Using inventory as an alternative of water will give extra flavour and never require any further salt.

It is a dish made for frugal occasions that may be supplemented with fried dumplings, boiled eggs, peanuts, kimchi or something crunchy on the aspect for a heartier meal. 

In my childhood recollections, steaming bowls of jook imply consolation, therapeutic, and sustenance – all the issues we want proper now in the course of the coronavirus pandemic with such uncertainty and no finish in sight.

For a easy meal that may use a variety of pantry gadgets and leftovers, jook made on the range or in a rice cooker can get you thru one other day. You also can make jook utilizing a slow-cooker or Instant Pot, following the producer’s directions.