Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mom's Chinese Turkey Jook

Looking for something different to make with turkey leftovers?  Try Chinese turkey jook, the Asian version of Jewish chicken noodle soup. Also known as congee, jook is a warm, porridge-like comfort food made with leftover turkey meat and bones.  But instead of noodles and carrots, jook incorporates rice and ginger. It's creamy, thick, and oh-so satisfying on cold winter days.

I was fascinated to learn online how many variations of jook people make all across Asia. The version my mom makes is the Cantonese style. A traditional dish that's low on cost but high on flavorful satisfaction, jook can be eaten at any time of day. While simmering for hours on the stove top, jook spreads its comforting smell slowly throughout the house as the rice breaks down into a thick white porridge. It wouldn't surprise me if scientific research showed that turkey jook has the same immunity building and therapeutic properties as its Jewish cousin.

Mom's Chinese Turkey Jook

Turkey bones with bits of meat (use leftover turkey carcass or turkey thighs)
6 cups water plus any leftover turkey pan juices or chicken broth for a total of about 12 cups of liquid (enough liquid to cover turkey)
1 cup uncooked, rinsed white rice
3 tablespoons sliced ginger
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons oyster sauce (a good brand is Lee Kum Kee)
Toppings to taste:  chopped scallions, slivers of ginger, fried sliced won ton strips, or cilantro

1. Simmer turkey bones and all liquids in a large pot on the stove for one hour, covered.
2. Add rice, sliced ginger, salt and oyster sauce. Simmer two more hours, stirring occasionally. Additional liquid may be added for desired consistency.
3. Remove bones and ginger. Ladle soup into bowls.
4. Top with chopped scallions and thin slivers of ginger or other toppings to taste.

If you're planning on roasting a turkey for Christmas or New Year's, consider making Chinese Turkey Jook for a warm and nourishing meal. Create a new tradition out of a centuries-old favorite.

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