jaht jook – pine nut rice porridge

seoul searching no. 11
is it strange that i don’t like rice? perhaps i am just tired of it, after eating it almost three times a day growing up, or maybe it’s a remnant of my three month dietary sojourn in south beach? i never order fried rice in chinese restaurants, i rarely eat nigiri sushi, and i always ask the server not to waste a little bowl of steamed white rice on me in korean restaurants. you would think adding cheese to rice would make it attractive to me, but i don’t love risotto, either. whatever the format, i am not a rice girl.

so it was a tough sell for me when we went to go eat jook, a korean rice porridge, similar to “zhou” or “congee” in chinese cuisine and “okayu” and “zosui” for japan. the base is white rice, cooked down with water, sometimes chicken broth, and other things added, like abalone (jun-bok jook), chicken (dahk jook), or pumpkin (ho-bahk jook). like any thick, warm, hearty grain food, jook is a comfort food of sorts. koreans eat jook for breakfast, the way americans eat oatmeal. when i get yook-gae jahng or suh-lung tahng at 4 am to sober up before leaving k-town, others like jook. and every korean mom knows that jook is the end-all be-all cure for every ailment from the common cold to diarrhea.

jaht jook (pine nut rice porridge) with nori goma furikake

there are a few restaurants in koreatown that “do jook.” san on 8th street specializes in it, and is very well known for their jun-bok jook. other korean late-night cafe/bistro-type places like hodori, nakwon, and ko-ggi-ree (aka elephant snack) also have jook on their menus.

i don’t think, though, that i could go and actually pay to eat jook; we went to someone’s house and had homemade jook with pine nuts, jaht jook. typically, jook requires a long soaking of raw rice in water, chopping the rice in a food processor, then cooking. you can cheat a little to save on the soaking time and just use already cooked rice and get basically the same texture and flavor.

jaht jook
1 c. white rice
2 c. pine nuts
6 – 10 c. water

optional garnishes/seasonings:
sesame oil and sesame seeds
nori goma furikake (japanese seasoning made of salt, sugar, seaweed, and sesame seeds)

1. soak the rice in water for about 4 – 5 hours
2. drain rice, saving the soaking water and chop in a blender or food processor with 1/2 c. water until the grains are about 1/2 to 1/3 their original size, then put into a large pot
3. chop 1 and 1/2 c. of the pine nuts in the food processor with another 1/2 c. water and add to the pot with the rice
4. add the remaining 1/2 c. whole pine nuts and another 5 c. water to the pot, and bring everything to a boil. reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the rice is soft, adding water if the jook gets too thick
5. season with salt to taste, drizzle with sesame oil, and serve with sesame seeds or nori goma furikake

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Foodie Universe May 9, 2005 at 9:46 pm

You know, I really am not a fan of rice either. I’m so not interested that I have never even bothered to try risotto. I do like rice in my nigiri and maki sushi, and a couple bites of saffron flavored basmati are nice, but otherwise I think rice is diluting or bulking up my dish and taking away from the full experience of whatever I’m eating (I realize this argument could easily be made with sushi, too). To make matters worse, most places in LA want to charge you extra for rice, which I think is about as logical as charging extra for tap water or ketchup. Anyway, I’m glad to know I’m not the only freak who doesn’t get turned on by rice :)


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