Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Another pot of jook

I have to get up really early in the morning during the week. Ridiculously early. My cats haven't even woken up when my alarm goes off at 5:45AM. And my stomach sure isn't interested in food at that time of day.

I've gone through phases when it comes to breakfast. In college, I would have a banana and frozen blueberry smoothie with a piece of toast and peanut butter. I ate this for weeks before I switched to a bowl of rice with a fried egg on top, drizzled with oyster sauce. I've had oatmeal phases, scrambled eggs with baked beans and toast phases, and BLT phases. Over the years, I've come to two conclusions: 1) I'm not really a breakfast person, and I don't really like traditional breakfast foods first thing in the morning; and 2) I'd rather eat savory foods for breakfast.

An epiphany came when I was reading an article in Cooking Light, which featured some recipes for twists on breakfast foods. There was a sidebar about breakfast foods in other countries, which noted that in countries like China, jook is a common breakfast food. A light bulb went off for me at that moment. Jook sounded like the perfect breakfast food for me. When I was small, my mom would make lugaw, the Filipino version of jook, when I had the stomach flu. Jook/lugaw is a rice porridge cooked with chicken. It's plain and comforting and filling, perfect for a sensitive stomach in the wee hours of the morning. Since my taste buds work fine, even before the sun rises, I like to season my jook with salt, pepper, chopped lettuce, and cilantro.

Jook is easy as all get out to make. In a large pot, put one whole chicken leg or one chicken carcass (you know, from a roast chicken after you've eaten most of it), and pour over about 6 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook 30 minutes for raw chicken and 15 minutes for cooked. Remove the chicken to a plate, and add one cup of brown rice to the water. Boil for two hours, stirring occasionally so that the rice doesn't stick to the bottom. Meanwhile, when the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and return the bones to the pot. Do this as soon as you can while the rice is cooking. Shred the meat and set aside. When the jook has reached the consistency of rice pudding, put the meat back into the pot and remove the bones. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for five more minutes. Serve with shredded lettuce, cilantro, and/or sliced ginger. Watch out for small bones or bits of gristle which may have detached during cooking.

One pot of this simple rice dish lasts me an entire work week. It's easy on my stomach, and I don't set off on my hour-and-a-half commute with the beginnings of hunger pangs.

1 comment:

Grace said...

Sounds yummy! The one time I was in Tokyo I craved the local Japanese breakfasts, but my boss, on a twitchy stomach, always picked the "american" restaurants, sigh. Looking forward to reading more Dark Days posts!