Jok is a Thai version of the more familiar Chinese rice porridge called congee that is served up for breakfast in various incarnations all across Asia. Jok is hearty, filling and, above all, a savory spicy Thai comfort food that starts off the day in rural villages as well as the steaming metropolis of Bangkok aka the Big Mango.
The recipe that follows is a basic guide for making Jok. Using brown fragrant rice, which has the additional nutritional benefits of bran and rice germ intact, is my preference. However, white fragrant rice is more commonly used simply because it has the allure of being more refined. Leaw tea Khun/Up to you, as the Thais say! In either case the recipe is essentially the same, other than a slightly longer cooking time if using the brown rice.
Admittedly making traditional Jok is time consuming, including a trip to the Asian market, but consider it a labor of love. Once all the components are gathered and prepared they can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. The whole dish can then be quickly assembled and put on the table in minutes.
Thai Stock: I prefer making a Thai stock for cooking the rice for the Jok, which can be made anytime you have some chicken or pork bones on hand, and refrigerated or frozen.
If you don’t want to bother making the stock use chicken broth or water, adding the lemon grass, galangal, ginger, and kaffir lime leaves along with the rice and cooking everything together. This will require picking out the flavoring ingredients while eating the Jok as the Thais do. A bit of a conundrum for westerners not used to the Thai way of eating, so again… leaw tea khun!
- 1 ½ gallon/5 ¼ liters water
- bones from 1 chicken (or pork bones)
- 3 stalks lemon grass, chopped into quarters and crushed
- 1 inch of galangal, sliced
- 1 inch ginger, sliced
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
Combine the ingredients in a stock pot and gently simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until reduced by a third. Cool and strain the stock, discarding the solids.
Jok: serves 4-5
- 1 cup brown broken fragrant rice (or broken white jasmine rice)
- 1 gallon/4 liters of Thai stock, chicken broth, or water
- 2-3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
- 4-5 teaspoons soy sauce
Note: If broken rice is not available this is easily accomplished by placing the rice in an electric spice/coffee mill with several quick pulses.
Also, as mentioned above, if you are using chicken broth or water, add the lemon grass, galangal, ginger, and kaffir lime leaves to the rice and cook everything together.
Rinse the rice and place it in a large soup pot. Add 6 cups stock, broth, or water and bring to a low boil and cook, stirring now and again until the rice begins to thicken. Add 2 more cups of liquid and cook until the rice continues to break down and thicken. Frequent stirring is required as the Jok thickens and tends to stick to the bottom of the pot. Continue repeating 2 cup additions of liquid to the rice until the rice is broken down and the mixture resembles a thick silky porridge. Total cooking time will be about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add the fish sauce (nam pla) and soy sauce and stir to combine. Set aside for reheating before serving or cool completely and refrigerate or freeze for later use.
While the rice is cooking you can make the pork balls that will be added to the Jok and cooked briefly before serving.
- 9 oz/250 g ground pork
- 2 teaspoons grated garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 small fresh red chile, seeded and chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- freshly ground white pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and kneed together using your hands until the mixture sticks together nicely. Roll into small balls and set aside to add to the Jok to cook just before serving. You should end up with about 20 pork balls.
- 4-5 eggs at room temperature
- boiling water to completely cover
This is a unique Asian way of partially cooking, or coddling if you will, the eggs that will then be tucked into the Jok and stirred in just before eating.
Place the eggs in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the eggs until they are completely covered. Set aside for 10-12 minutes.
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- ¼ cup fresh ginger, thinly sliced into threads
- 1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
- Thai chile flakes
- fried shallots (optional)
- fish sauce (nam pla)
- soy sauce
Final cooking and serving:
Reheat the Jok to a low simmer and add the pork balls, evenly distributed. Allow to simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring gently once the pork balls have set.
Set out individual serving bowls. Ladle the Jok into the bowls along with 4 to 5 pork balls per serving.
Gently crack the cooked eggs and slip them into the Jok at the side of each bowl. The whites will be just congealed and the yolks very soft. Not to worry, they will finish cooking when they are stirred into rice just before eating.
Top each serving with the green onions, ginger threads, and basil leaves. Serve the chile flakes, fried shallots, fish sauce (nam pla), and soy sauce on the table.