Thursday, October 25, 2018

Juk (aka Congee) #AbramsDinnerParty

When I got the book Korean Home Cooking from Abrams books (free, because I'm participating in the Abrams Dinner Party) I was really curious. What's Korean home cooking like?

If that sounds weird, think about cookbooks you own that focus on cuisines you know well. Think about what you cook at home or what your mom made when you were a kid. There are some cookbooks that feature home cooking - those recipes you'd find at anyone's house - and then there are recipes that would only show up for holidays, or that are normally found on restaurant menus.

My mom made a few things that I thought were traditional foods, until I got older and realized that I never saw them at anyone's house, and I never saw them in restaurants. They were homey and comforting and really good, like her tomato soup or her cabbage and tomato stew.

So, anyway, I was looking forward to seeing what I'd find here. I was totally surprised to find a breaded chicken breast that would have been totally familiar to most people. It looked good, but I decided to make what is actually a very common Korean dish - juk, also known as congee. This is the kind of dish you'd make if someone wasn't feeling well, either physically or emotionally. Basically, it's a rice porridge.

If you never had congee, think of it as something like risotto, but cooked even more than that, so the rice is even softer and breaks down a little more. Totally yum.

Juk (Congee)
Adapted from Korean Home Cooking by Sohui Kim

2 cups short grain rice (sushi rice is recommended. I think Arborio would work, too)
5-6 cups anchovy stock or water (I used chicken stock)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 thick slices fresh ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions for garnish
2-4 soy marinated eggs, poached eggs, or soft boiled eggs (optional)

Okay, I have to make a confession here. I cheated. I tossed all the congee ingredients into my rice cooker and pressed the "porridge" button and sat back and waiting until it was done. Yeah, sometimes I'm lazy, but I also know that rice cookers are ubiquitous in Korean kitchens, so I don't feel too guilty.

Here's how, if you don't have a rice cooker"

Put the rice, 5 cups of water/stock, salt, pepper, ginger, and soy sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 35 minutes.

Uncover the pot, discard the ginger, and add 1 more cup of stock. Let it cook for another 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and the rice is soft and tender.

Serve in bowls. Sprinkle with the scallions and drizzle on more soy sauce. Add the cooked egg to each bowl, if desired.

I actually opted for TWO eggs in my bowl the second time I made this, and skipped the scallions.

Just in case you missed it, I'm getting books for free from Abrams Books, just so I can tell you all about 'em.