I recently spent an unglamorous stay-cation moping around my Brooklyn apartment, fighting a viral infection. It’s winter here. Colds happen. But dammit, being sick sucks. Few things give me comfort amid a bout of sickness—blankets are either too hot or not warm enough, tea parches my throat, and sleep is hard to come by. Thankfully, I can always depend on the healing presence of my cats, and my mum’s Thai jok.
Since I’m not willing to lend you my cats, let me tell you how I batch prepare a week’s worth of my mum’s soothing rice porridge to eat until I feel better. It’s a nourishing, warm hug of a soup, perfect for when you’re feeling your worst.
What is jok (โจ๊ก)?
Thai jok (pronounced a bit like “joe-g”) is a comforting rice porridge similar to dishes from other Asian countries (thing Chinese congee, or lugaw from the Philippines). In Thailand, you can find it served at restaurants that specialize in just this particular dish. Jok is primarily eaten for breakfast, but I like to have it for lunch too, especially when I’m sick and my sleep schedule is suffering.
The soup base is made from broken jasmine rice and chicken broth. You can buy bags of broken rice at some asian grocery stores for this purpose, but I just break up regular rice on my own. Breaking it is key. You’ve probably added grain-intact rice to soup before; this rice swells and sits at the bottom of the bowl. The rice in jok acts differently.
When you break the grains of rice, the inside is exposed to the broth. As the water boils, the starches swell and burst. As the structure of the grain is already destroyed, more of the available gelatinized starch releases into the broth, making the soup silky and glutinous.
Once you have the base porridge prepared, poach an egg in the hot liquid, add shredded meats, shrimp, or meatballs and top with fresh herbs and aromatics—cilantro, fresh chopped ginger, fried garlic, and chopped scallions. You can combine any or all of these additions, but when I’m feeling down in the dumps myself, a combo of chicken broth, egg, cilantro, and ginger are indispensable in my bowl.
How to make jok the easy way
Cooking from scratch is the last thing you want to do when you’re sick, and while making this soup isn’t as easy as cracking a can of Progresso, it’s light years more satisfying. To make it a tad easier than the classic preparation, I like to meal prep the components to make a soup that will last me a week—I just have to heat it up and drop in a couple eggs when I’m hungry. This makes the process much more manageable, and it still tastes just as good as when my mum makes it.
1. Cook the rice
Cook a large quantity of rice, or just use leftover rice that you already have. I usually dump one and a half cups each of jasmine rice and water into my rice cooker and press “cook,” but if you like to make rice in a pot, do your thing. Once the rice is cooked and cooled, put it in a container with a lid and store it in the fridge.
2. Chop the vegetables
Whenever I make a bowl of jok I just take a pinch of each. They’ll keep well for about a week. Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Peel the ginger and finely chop or julienne an inch or two of the root. Store this in a small container with a lid. Make sure the pieces aren’t packed too tightly or they’ll freeze into a brick. Chop three or four scallions into thin rounds and store them in a small container with a damp paper towel. Do the same with a handful of cilantro. You can store them separately in their own containers or do a roommate situation like I did in the picture. Put the ginger in the freezer and the other two in the fridge.
3. Make the jok
When you’re ready for soup, you can break the rice with an immersion blender, a food processor, or a standard blender. I use an immersion blender, so I pour two cups of chicken broth into a medium sized pot and add about a cup of the cooked, leftover rice. (Once you can get the hang of it, you can adjust the thickness of the soup by adjusting the amount of rice.) Break apart the lump of rice with a spoon. Use an immersion blender and pulse the mixture in the pot, targeting different areas, about 10 to 15 times. If you’re using a blender or food processor, add the broth and rice to the blender and pulse 10 to 15 times. You want to break the rice into small parts, but you don’t want to purée it into nothingness. Add the mixture to a pot.
This rice has been pulsed 10 times. It’s almost there but there are a lot of whole grains still. I pulsed it another five times after taking this picture. Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Turn the burner on to medium-low and allow the porridge to heat up, stirring occasionally as it heats and thickens. Let it boil for two or three minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
4. Add your toppings
If you’re adding eggs, and I highly recommend you do, crack and drop them straight into the gently boiling jok. Turn off the heat and cover it with a lid. Let the eggs poach for about 15 minutes, which will leave you with a runny yolk that will cool the porridge down to the perfect temperature to soothe a sore throat. If you like your eggs cooked further, you can always snap the heat back on for a few minutes.
Scoop the soup into a bowl, carefully spooning the poached eggs on top. Add a pinch each of frozen ginger (it’ll thaw once you stir it in), scallions, and cilantro.
This recipe makes enough jok for two servings and includes toppings that deliver a mild flavor, with soothing qualities for the tummy and throat. You can eat it any time of year, of course, and switch up the toppings with your mood. Try adding fried garlic chips, chili crisp, cooked leftover slices of beef or chicken, and a dab of soy sauce and fish sauce if you’d like a boost of saltiness and umami. Keep the batch-prepared components in the fridge and freezer so they’re ready for you when you need a pick-me-up during the week.
Quick Jok Recipe
- 1 cup of leftover cooked jasmine rice
- 2 cups of chicken broth
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or frozen ginger
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons sliced spring onions
- Salt and pepper if desired
1. Add the rice and chicken broth to a medium-sized pot. Break up the rice into smaller clusters with a spoon. Use an immersion blender to pulse the mixture about 10 times. The goal is to break up the rice, but not to obliterate it. Use a spoon to scoop some of the rice up so you can check on how it’s going. The rice pieces should be small but distinguishable. A few intact rice grains are fine.
2. Heat the mixture on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the soup boil for a minute or two. The mixture will thicken up toward the end of the cooking time and continue to thicken as it cools.
3. Just before turning off the heat, crack the eggs and drop them directly into the jok. Cover the pot with a lid and turn off the heat. Let the eggs poach for about 15 minutes. Scoop the porridge into two bowls with one egg each and distribute the ginger, cilantro, and scallions. Add salt and pepper as desired.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.