Friday, June 26, 2009

Gingered Turkey Zuk

The weather in New York has made me crabby. Ten minutes of sun and then endless rainstorms. Waaaah. Wet, cold. Garden is molding instead of growing. Slugs. Waaah.

Time to make comfort food. This is why I made myself a nice bowl of zuk. Also known as congee, zuk is a Chinese rice dish made by cooking rice until it falls apart and turns into a thick, comforting bowl of porridge.

This porridge deviates from Western porridge by being savory, and almost never sweet. It's served to infants, or sick people to help them mend, or to people who are really crabby about the weather. Some version of zuk exists in almost any country where rice is the staple starch (as opposed to wheat, for example). In parts of India it's called kanji, in Korea juk, in Thailand jok.

It's supposed to be made with white rice, but I was e-chatting with a friend (hey, Ben!) who said he only ate brown rice these days and then, in a separate thought, mentioned that he loved congee. When challenged he admitted that he made congee the traditional way, with white rice. This made me wonder what would happen if....

Gingered Turkey Zuk
Zuk is usually made with white rice, but this version gets a little fiber boost by using brown rice. A zuk made with brown rice will take about 3 hours to cook, so if you don't have the patience, use white rice instead (though you're still on the hook for about 2 hours). Also, add about 1 more cup broth or water to the soup (a total of 9 cups) because the white rice tends to absorb more.

1 medium onion, quartered
1 small carrot, sliced
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 pounds skin-on, bone-in turkey drumstick or thighs
14 cups water
3/4 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, finely sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Minced cilantro, for garnish

1. In a medium soup pot, combine the onion, carrot, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, turkey, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a high simmer, partially cover and cook until the turkey is cooked through, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Remove the turkey from the broth. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones and set aside. Discard the skin. If you want a richer broth and don't mind taking the extra time, return the bone(s) to the soup pot and continue simmering, covered, for 30 minutes or so.
3. Strain the broth. Take off most of the fat that rises to the surface. You'll need 8 cups for the zook, so if you don't have enough, add water.
4. Place the broth and rice in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a low simmer, partially cover and cook until the soup has thickened and the rice has "flowered" (the ends of the grains will actually blossom outward), 2 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours.
5. Meanwhile, cut the turkey into bite-size pieces. When the zook is done, remove from the heat, stir in the turkey and let sit covered for 10 minutes.
6. In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and salt, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the scallions and stir-fry until they're just limp, about 1 minute.
7. Ladle the zuk into soup bowls. Top with the ginger-scallion mixture. Sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings

1 comment:

  1. Benny JoeJune 26, 2009

    Hey, thanks for the citation. Looks like a yummy recipe, but I'll have to save it for later because it's over a hundred degrees every day here.