Turkey Jook

If you grew up in a Chinese-American home, chances are pretty good that your family had Turkey Jook (also known as Congee or Shi-fan) after Thanksgiving.  This yummy rice porridge is great comfort food.  The secret is long slow cooking, that causes the rice to break down completely so that it has the consistency of medium cream of wheat.  In my house we had shi-fan (though not with turkey) once a week for breakfast.  My mother made it very bland but served it with at least a dozen condiments, including many most Americans have never seen, much less tasted.  My favorites were dried pork shreds, fermented tofu, Chinese pickled vegetables and hundred-day old eggs.  This version of jook, however, is well flavored, and needs few accompaniments.  Most of them would be familiar to most Americans.  This dish is easiest to make over two days.  It needs little attention once it gets going (just make sure the heat is low when making both stock and porridge and you stir the porridge occasionally).  Make the stock the first day, and the porridge the next. 

  • One turkey carcass leftover from thanksgiving or other holiday dinner
  • Four quarts water
  • 1 two-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1 ½ cups long-grained rice
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 6 dried  shitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups leftover shredded turkey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Salt to taste

 Break up turkey carcass and put it in a stock pot.  If you have a stock pot with a removable straining basket, it works great for this dish.  Cover carcass with water and add ginger.  Cut the green onion bunch cross wise in half and add the bottom half (with bulbs) to the pot.  Reserve the remainder of the green onion for condiments (see below).  Bring contents of the pot to boil.  Skim and discard scum that forms on the surface.  Turn heat down to low and simmer for 2-4 hours (the longer you simmer, the better the flavor).  Drain broth and discard turkey bones, ginger and green onion.    Refrigerate the stock overnight.  The next day remove the congealed fat from the top and return to the stove.  Add the mushrooms and bring the stock to a boil.  Add the rice and ginger and reduce the heat to low.  After about 15 minutes, remove the mushrooms and allow them to cool.  When they are cool, slice them into thin slices and return them to the pot.  Simmer the rice for about two hours stirring occasionally.  Add left-over turkey to the pot and simmer ½ hour more.  The rice should have the consistency of a medium porridge.  Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary.  Ladle porridge into soup bowls and add a squirt a sesame oil to each bowl. Serve condiments on the side, which can include:

  • Chopped green onions (the other half of the bunch, see above)
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Steamed bite-sized bok choy or shredded raw lettuce
  • Chili sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Quartered hard-boiled eggs (Chinese would use duck eggs, but chicken eggs are fine)
  • Sliced bamboo shoots
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Bacon bits for the pork lovers.

Makes 10-12 servings

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