One of the first things I make when I feel a cold coming on is a big pot of Jok (pronounced joke). It is typically served as a breakfast and is basically rice that you cook the hell out of so that it becomes a wonderfully soft and silky porridge. With the addition of garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and a protein of your choice (pork, chicken, fish) you are on the fast-track to feeling better than ever. This is also a miracle cure for upset tummies and nasty hangovers!
I think pretty much every asian country has a version of this (the Chinese call in congee), but for me I’ve never had anything better than a piping hot bowl from a street cart in Bangkok. My awesomely wonderful and crazy Thai dad has a killer version of his own. This is one of those things that you don’t measure, you simply taste and adjust, so I did my best to write the recipe to share with you. It’s a wonderful way to become familiar with how you like to season your food, but just know that much of the details are in the instructions, so this isn’t a measure and move on type of thing.
Jok (Thai-style porridge)
– 4-6 garlic cloves (there is no such thing as too much garlic)
– 2 –inch “knuckle” of ginger (scrape the skin off with the side of a spoon)
– 2 ½ cups rice
– fish sauce to taste (I’ll help you figure this out below)
– low sodium soy sauce to taste, preferably organic
– 1 pound ground pork
– 1 Tbs olive oil
– 2 eggs, organic
– fresh cilantro
– black pepper
– water, filtered
In a large soup pot (I used my 5-quart Le Creuset) add the rice and rinse until the water runs clear (usually 2-3 rinses will do), then add about 5 cups of water and place on stovetop on medium heat.
While the rice is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Meanwhile, add the garlic and ginger to a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped bits. When the oil is up to temperature add the ground pork, garlic and ginger, 1 Tbs soy sauce, and 1 Tbs fish sauce. Saute until it is mostly cooked through.
Tip: Don’t break up the pork too much. You’ll want larger pieces for texture and flavor. If they are too small, they’ll be lost in the texture of the rice.
Add the cooked pork mixture to the pot of cooking rice and mix in well. At this point add 2 cups of water, 1 Tbs fish sauce, and 1 Tbs soy sauce. Reduce heat slightly, stir, and let simmer.
Keep checking the water level as the rice will absorb a lot pretty quickly. You can’t really overcook the rice, but it’s really about adding the right amount of flavor. It doesn’t have to be this exact, but as a guide at 30 and 45 minutes add 1 cup of water. At 45 minutes only, add 1 Tbs fish sauce, and 1 Tbs soy sauce and stir well.
Note: Remember, we have a huge pot of water and rice, and it needs to be seasoned, so don’t be alarmed at the amount of fish and soy sauces. If you are not using low sodium soy sauce, you will want to cut back on that measurement.
Texture at 30 minutes
Texture at 45 minutes
After about an hour the texture and flavors should be set. Try it and adjust as needed. Raise the heat back up to medium-high and add two eggs, one at a time, stirring to break up the yolk and incorporate well.
Let simmer for a few minutes to cook the eggs and prepare to serve. Top with fresh cilantro, fried garlic, and sliced ginger. I don’t always have it on hand, but I added some pickled garlic and added it as a garnish as well.
I realize the detailed instructions may be a bit overwhelming, but I wanted to give you an idea of how the flavoring part works. Please know that this recipe is really very easy, and the instructions are not as scary as they look. Please give it a try and let me know if you have any suggestions for revising the instructions.
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