In the last few months when dining at modern Asian restaurants, I noticed a dish popping up often on the menu as an entree option. That dish is rice congee, also known as jook in Chinese.
So it’s not unusual to see jook on the menu of a Chinese restaurant, but for dinner? It’s traditionally a breakfast standard, a comforting warm bowl of rice porridge that gives people that feeling of a full belly so you can take on the day. (Even in China, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.)
At these restaurants, they’re charging maybe $12 to $16 for a bowl of rice congee. I’m sure there may be extra ingredients to make it a special dish, but I can’t imagine this everyday dish for dinner.
But after seeing it on the menu once again at another restaurant, I decided if I can’t beat ’em, join ’em. And that’s when I came up with this recipe for jook topped with slow-cooked pork belly with a miso glaze so that this pedestrian dish could be elevated to something worth waiting for dinner.
This is really a weekend project because you’ll need a day to cook the pork belly and then another day to cook the jook. And both aren’t something you can rush. So try this recipe during a long weekend, and skip ordering it at a restaurant. 😉
Miso-Glazed Pork Belly Jook aka Rice Congee
Makes two to three servings
1.5 lb. pork belly, skin removed
2 T salt*
2 T sugar*
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sushi rice
2 cups chicken broth
4-5 cups water
1 T chicken bouillon powder
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup dried peanuts (soaked and drain)
2 preserved egg (optional) aka pei dan
1/2 to 1 T fresh minced ginger (optional)
1 t ground white pepper
pinch of salt
negi or green onion for garnish
1 part white miso
1 part sugar
1 part light brown sugar
1 part rice vinegar
dash of soy sauce
*salt and sugar should be about 1 tablespoon per pound of pork belly
Combine the salt, sugar and black pepper and rub the mixture all around the pork belly, almost massaging it in. Then refrigerate overnight or at least six hours before cooking.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place pork belly in roasting pan and then cook in oven for two to three hours until meat is tender but fatty portion shouldn’t be mushy. (To test, literally poke a fork into it to see if it’s fork tender.) When done, remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Then tightly wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least two hours (or overnight) till ready to use. You can keep the cooked pork belly in the refrigerator for up to two days.
In a large saucepan or pot, warm the oil over medium high heat and then add the sushi rice. Briefly toast rice with ground white pepper. Then add chicken broth, two cups of water and peanuts that have been drained. Cover and bring to boil then reduce to simmer. Now you’ll slowly cook the rice until creamy, stirring periodically to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot and to make sure there’s enough moisture. When the rice looks thick and dry, add more water, about a cup at a time. This should take between 90 minutes to 2 hours to get the creamy, silky texture for the jook.
Because you’re adding so much water as you’re cooking, you need to make sure to season your jook. After about an hour, you can add the chicken bouillon powder. (If you don’t want to use chicken bouillon, then just add salt or soy sauce to taste.) Also add the ginger at this time.
When the jook is almost ready, add the preserved eggs cut into pieces (with shell removed) and let the jook warm it up. Place jook aside.
In a small non-stick skillet, warm a bit of oil over medium high heat and add the slices of pork belly. Pan-fry briefly to get both sides crispy (about 30 seconds each side) and then drizzle a bit of the miso glaze into the pan to coat the pork slices. Cook for another minute (turning occasionally to get the glaze all over the pork) then remove from heat.
Place your jook into bowls, then pile a few slices of pork belly on top and garnish with julienne strips of negi or green onion. Serve immediately.
Here’s a cooking video I did demonstrating this whole weekend project. Enjoy!
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