Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Best Breakfast Ever

Ok, so what defines the best breakfast food is completely subjective.  Some people like savory, some sweet.  Some go for things like pancakes or waffles covered in syrup or a lumberjack special.  In some parts of the country, an egg and sausage burrito the size of my head is the standard way to get going in the morning.  Other parts of the world start with soup, rice, or simply a croissant and cup of coffee.  This is my pick for the ideal way to start the day.
To most people, this dish is most recognizable as congee, the Chinese staple consisting of leftover rice simmered for hours on end to make a creamy porridge.  Versions exist in every rice based country in Asia; they all have their own names, but are variations on the same thing: simmered rice.  In Thailand, this is what we ate each morning before hitting the beach, and it's still what we choose at home before a busy day.
Jook (also johk or chuk)

yield 3-4 servings

1/2 c jasmine rice, leftover or raw
5 c water or stock of your choice
fish sauce
1/2 T sugar

Garnishes (pick your favorites):
sliced green onion
fried, raw, or poached egg
fried garlic
fried shallots
sliced thai chilies
dried shrimp
finely shredded ginger
ground chicken or pork
fish sauce
fresh lime wedges

In a medium saucepan, place the rice and cooking liquid.  Bring to a simmer, and add the sugar and some fish sauce.  Stir in the meat, if using.  Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick and creamy, adding more liquid as needed to keep the consistency fluid.  This takes a minimum of 40 minutes, just keep cooking until the texture you want is achieved.  I like mine to be creamy and soft, but still with discernible grains of rice.

Dish out the porridge into warmed bowls, and let everyone dress up the congee the way they want.  Just make sure not to skimp on the fish sauce and lime juice.  The combination is completely seductive.

Leftover jook can be stored in the refrigerator and revived with a bit of boiling water for future breakfasts.


  1. Mmm, now I know what to do with that leftover rice. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. simple, inexpensive and nourishing!