7:01 AM EST
Breaking with Tradition: Korean Mushroom Juk (죽)
Here’s the thing about rice: basmati is my favorite variety and I use it in all my cooking, regardless of cuisine. Another thing: my global spice collection has taken up tons of kitchen real estate - I simply have no room for a dozen different kinds of rice. So Koreans, before you send me hate mail, know that I prepare my Juk (죽) fully aware of the short grain variety traditionally used in this dish. Everybody else, you’re probably thinking, what the heck is juk? Simply put, juk, known outside of Korea as congee, is rice porridge. It is a restorative dish and as such doesn’t have much flavor. Which is perfect for the very young, very old and anyone feeling under the weather. With that said, juk lends itself perfectly to add-ins like fried eggs, pickled foods (e.g., kimchi), grilled meat and nuts. In Korea juk is also made from other grains such as red beans (팥). You’ll notice that the juk photographed for this post is purple. I just happened to have purple jasmine rice on hand the day I prepared juk in the test kitchen. Folks, we’re not making an insanely delicate Iranian polow or Indian Biryani. Use what you have on hand: it may not be traditional but it will still taste great.
• 1 cup uncooked rice
• 2 tablespoons sesame oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 6 oz fresh mushrooms, any variety, chopped
• 6 cups liquid (any combination of water and stock/broth)
• 1 teaspoon salt
Place the uncooked rice in a bowl, cover with very hot water and let stand for 30 minutes. Separately, sauté the garlic and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil. Once the garlic turns golden, transfer it and the mushrooms to a bowl, keeping any residual oil in the pan.
Drain the soaked rice of as much water as you can. Place your pan over medium heat and add the remaining sesame oil. Add the soaked rice and sauté until fragrant and somewhat dry, about 10 minutes. Return the garlic and mushrooms to the pot and add the 6 cups of liquid. Increase the heat and boil for 5 minutes. Finally, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the rice for approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Prepare the juk as you would oatmeal – the ultimate consistency is up to you. Just remember that the juk will seem thinner than it is when very hot (i.e., simmering in the pot). Season with salt and serve warm.