Juk is Korean savory rice porridge, and it comes in many forms. The grains of rice can be fully ground, partially ground, or left whole, for a range of potential textures. Add-ins can be anything from chicken or beef to abalone, jujubes, nuts, pumpkin, and more. Its generally mild flavor and soft texture make it the kind of comfort food that's ideal for feeding the sick, the elderly, and babies, but it's definitely not limited to those groups—anyone can enjoy a warming bowl of juk at any time.
This recipe is for a classic dak (chicken) juk, and while it's a fundamentally simple preparation, there are a few key details that ensure great results. Firstly, you'll want to mince the vegetables (in this case, that's carrot, onion, and zucchini) as finely as possible—ideally to a size comparable to the grains of rice themselves, allowing a seamless textural interplay of vegetables and rice. Cut larger, and the vegetables in this particular recipe seem clunky and awkward.*
*Do note that our recipe times do not include prepping the ingredient list, so if your knife skills aren't great, you should allot extra time for all that fine chopping.
Also critically important is the quality of the broth you use. Yes, you can make a quick juk with store-bought stock and some bits of leftover cooked chicken, but you'll get far better flavor if you make your own. This is a dish of few ingredients, after all, so the ones you use really show through. It's not too much trouble—just simmer a whole chicken in a pot with water and aromatics—but it does take some time, since you need to make the broth first (though that time coincides with the soaking time for the rice, so you're not really speeding up the process if you skip making the broth from scratch).
Finally, it's crucial that you sauté the rice in oil before adding the broth. This develops the rice's flavor, just as it does in an Italian risotto. Furthermore, Serious Eats recipe contributor and Korean-cooking expert Seoyoung Jung says that toasting the rice also helps ensure the grains remain whole even as they meld into the porridge, a texture that she describes as "still alive," and one that's important to a well-made juk of this style.
Why It Works
- Soaking the rice grains helps hydrate them, softening them more quickly in the porridge.
- A last-minute addition of finely minced raw garlic adds a subtle punch of flavor.
- A homemade broth pays dividends, guaranteeing a good base flavor to the porridge while also yielding shredded meat.
- Toasting the rice in sesame oil develops its flavor.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:2 hours
- 1 cup (7 1/2 ounces; 215g) short-grain rice
- 1 small (3-pound; 1.3kg) whole chicken
- 8 medium cloves garlic, 6 whole and 2 finely minced, divided
- One 1-inch piece fresh ginger (10g), peeled
- 3 scallions, ends trimmed, white and light green parts reserved for broth, green tops sliced thin on a bias, divided
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons (25ml) toasted sesame oil
- 1 small (4-ounce; 115g) carrot, very finely minced
- 1/2 small (6-ounce; 160g) white onion, very finely minced
- 1/2 medium (7-ounce; 200g) zucchini or Korean summer squash, very finely minced
- Kosher or sea salt
- Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
In a medium bowl, cover rice with at least 2 inches cold water and soak for 1 hour. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven or similarly sized pot, combine chicken, whole garlic cloves, ginger, and scallion whites with 2 quarts (2L) cold water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook at a gentle simmer until thickest part of breast close to bone registers 150°F (66°C) on an instant-read thermometer and joint between thighs and body registers at least 175°F (80°C), about 45 minutes.
Carefully transfer chicken to work surface and let stand until cool enough to handle. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl and strain broth through it; discard solids.
In a 3-quart saucier or saucepan, heat sesame oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add drained rice and cook, stirring frequently, until a sticky film develops on bottom of pot, about 3 minutes. Add carrot, onion, and zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened slightly and rice grains are slightly translucent around their edges, about 2 minutes.
Add 6 cups (1.4L) strained broth and stir to scrape up any starchy coating on bottom of pan. Bring to a rapid simmer, then cook, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to bottom of pan, until rice grains are plump and tender and liquid is thickened, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, shred chicken meat, discarding skin and bones.
Add two-thirds of both the chicken meat and scallion greens to juk along with remaining 2 cloves minced garlic and simmer until chicken is warmed through; if juk is thicker than you'd like, thin as desired with remaining broth (or reserve extra broth for another use). Season juk with salt to taste.
Ladle juk into individual serving bowls, garnish with remaining shredded chicken and scallion greens, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.