The 3-Ingredient Recipe I Always Make When I'm Sick

All you need are pantry staples and a pot.

<p>Simply Recipes / Erika Kwee</p>

Simply Recipes / Erika Kwee

Whenever I came down with a bad cold or flu as a child, I remember my mom making a pot of the most comforting sick food: jook, also known as congee or rice porridge. She would usually start the congee or rice porridge in the morning (as soon as my sickness made an appearance).

Sometimes it was flavored with a ham bone, sometimes with leftover chicken stock. It would simmer on the stove until the rice dissolved into the water and thickened into a creamy, soupy consistency.

This is a quicker and easier version of the classic sick-day recipe that my mom learned from her mom. My mom has memories of her mom sometimes simmering the jook on the lowest possible heat overnight. Most people I know seem to have slightly different methods of making jook, but it always feels like the perfect thing for when you’re sick—warm, comforting, and easy to digest.

Even if you’re not sick, it’s such an easy, versatile meal for cold days.

<p>Simply Recipes / Erika Kwee</p>

Simply Recipes / Erika Kwee

The Easiest 3-Ingredient Jook Recipe

For the simplest, most spartan version that’s ideal as simple fuel for when you’re sick, all you’ll need is:

Rinse the rice three times under running water, drain, then combine the rice and 5 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Put the lid on slightly ajar and cook at a simmer over very low heat for about an hour to an hour and a half, or until thickened and creamy.

You can reduce the water to 4 cups for a thicker consistency or increase the water to 6 cups for a thinner, more watery consistency. It’s always best to err on the side of less water because you can always add more later to thin it out.

On a sick day, my mom would usually keep a pot of jook on the stovetop all day long to reheat when necessary. You can store jook for up to two days in the fridge, reheating in the microwave or on the stove. Add more water as needed to thin it out.

If you have more energy to jazz up this very simple jook, you can:

  • Use good store-bought or homemade vegetable or chicken stock instead of water

  • Stir in a spoonful of red or white miso paste at the end for more flavor

  • Add a ham bone along with the rice and water or stock to simmer (my mom’s suggestion for the most flavorful jook). A turkey carcass also works! Chicken bones are not recommended as they’re difficult to disentangle and strain out of the jook. The easier route is to make chicken stock ahead of time.

<p>Simply Recipes / Erika Kwee</p>

Simply Recipes / Erika Kwee

Toppings for Jook

When I’m sick, I usually prefer plain jook with my classic topping: soy sauce. However, it’s a really versatile base that can be topped with a number of items, including:

  • Soft-boiled eggs

  • Cubes of soft or fried tofu

  • Chili oil or chili crisp

  • Sesame oil

  • Scallions

  • Furikake

  • Sesame seeds

  • Roasted peanuts

  • Fried onions and/or garlic

  • Youtiao (plain fried dough sticks, my grandpa’s favorite)

<p>Simply Recipes / Erika Kwee</p>

Simply Recipes / Erika Kwee

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