HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


jook (congee), okayu, porridge, gruel

Regional variations?
Best grains used?
Your preferences?
Is there a "best time" to eat them (breakfast, when you are sick)?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I love Chinese congee when it's nice and thick, with bits of whatever in it, in a salty-sweet way.

    Is "jook" an exclusively Korean word for it? I think it's been mentioned as a Chinese thing too, is that different from congee?

    Anyone ever have Korean jook made of pine nuts? I was forced to eat it as a kid, and I never liked it, but I never see it mentioned around here.

    2 Replies
    1. re: janethepain

      The jook made with pine nuts is called jatjook (jat = pine nuts, you see). My mother loves the stuff.

      1. re: PseudoNerd

        Jatjook is like Korean chicken noodle soup. Comfort food when you're feeling funky.

    2. My Mom knew it as "jook" and she's Hakka Chinese (jamaican chinese). There's also dishes very similar to it in West Indian Indian cooking (I know that sounds confusing but there is a difference between Indian cooking and West Indian-Indian cooking)...There's something called Kitcheree that uses rice and lentils, then there's a dessert called sweet rice with condensed milk, milk and cinnamon (and rice obviously). I love those things so I used to eat them all the time (because family used to make them for me all the time!). Now I don't get it as frequently but usually gruel (cornmeal porridge from England), Oatmeal type things I think are for breakfast, I eat congee when I'm sick or have a hang over...it works wonders...and sweet rice, I make when I'm homesick...also custard (English style that they put over apple pie).

      1 Reply
      1. re: BuggySer

        I have a cookbook with an Egyptian recipe called Kusherie involving rice and lentils. Tomato-based sauce, i believe. Like this:


      2. I think jook is Cantonese. I like it with dried scallops, pork, thousand year old eggs, scallion--not sure what else my MIL uses but hers is the best. And, jook is different from po-veh (don't know how it's spelled) which is rice porridge made w/ hot water only.

        1. Topping = cilantro, scallions, salted cabbge, and fried scallions.

          1. I'm Chinese and every Chinese person I know calls it jook. I thought congee was the English translation. My father's favorite was made with fresh fish and salted cabbage which we kids didn't much like. I make it with chicken which I boil with the rice, then I strip the meat off the bone and put the meat back, add vegetables, pickles and some soy or sesame. I associate jook with being sick because my mother always believed it was more easily digested.

            1. The Cantonese call it jook. The Mandarin equivalent is pronounced more like dzo (rhymes with joe). Americans call it congee.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chococat

                Pinyin is zhōu. Congee (kan ji) is Tamil I know it as juk, and my favourite is with lean pork, century eggs and lots of scallions.

              2. I'm Cantonese and we call it jook. In China, jook is just leftover dinner, boiled with lots of water (at least, that's what it was for my peasant ancestors).

                My favorite way: bits of thousand-yr-old egg with bits of sweet red pickled ginger.

                12 Replies
                1. re: Claudette

                  Chinese language names are jook (which is a lot like dzo in pronounciation) and also xi fan.

                  1. re: thejulia

                    Xi fan is plain and is eaten for breakfast in Northern China. Xi fan is usually made with rice but can be millet, barley, or some other grain. It is often accompanied by peanuts, pickled vegetables, thousand year old eggs, or shredded pork.

                    Jook is Cantonese and is often eaten late at night. It is also offered at dim sum palaces. It is usually cooked in some broth and is never plain. Some common jook choices include pork liver and kidney, thousand year old eggs with pork strips, chicken, or raw fish which you can then place (cook) in the jook. The Mandarin pronunciation of the word is zhou.

                    1. re: thejulia

                      We speak Mandarin in my family and I've only heard of it referred to as xi fan in my family.

                      1. re: rcheng

                        Out of curiosity, then, if you were reading a menu and saw 稀飯, clearly you'd say "xi fan" -- but if it were listed as 粥, would you call it "zhou" or would you just interpret it as "xi fan"?

                        Just curious -- because Cantonese has a lot of inconvenient "glosses" like that that make learning that particular language damn near impossible for someone who didn't grow up speaking it.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          Xi fan and zhou are two different things. Xi fan (known as pao fan in Shanghai) is thinner, and has the grains of rice still intact. The usage might be different in Taiwan, though

                          1. re: Gary Soup

                            Ah, that clears up a lot -- had a discussion with someone once where I ordered zhou when she wanted xi fan, but she never articulated the difference.


                            1. re: Gary Soup

                              Pao fan for my shanghaiese parents literally mean pouring hot water over leftover rice. This mixture is not cooked again. So if Xi Fan is rice that's been cooked with lots of water I don't think it's the same thing.

                              1. re: notmartha

                                I think the Japanese do something similar with bonito broth or tea instead of water.

                                1. re: notmartha

                                  My (Shanghainese) wife and inlaws all reboil pao fan, though not for a great length of time.

                                  1. re: notmartha

                                    If you do that with the scorched rice stuck at the bottom of rice not cooked in a modern cooker-- that is, prepared in a pot or something similar over heat-- it's called nooroongji in Korean.

                                    1. re: PseudoNerd

                                      Also in some Chinese meals where clay pot rice is served (ie. chinese chartucerie meats w/ mushrooms, etc), diners often leave the "bottom of the pot" crust (similar to tadich) and ask for a quick boil of broth into the pot to make pao fan. Really great, because it catches all the flavors and drips from the rest of the clay pot ingredients.

                                      No one has mentioned arroz caldo... how does it compare with juk, pao fan, gruel, chao, etc...?

                                      1. re: PseudoNerd

                                        Haha, just the other day my mom cooked some nooroongji in some water and my parents ate it like it was the greatest thing on earth

                          2. I'm no expert, but I love congee with gingko nuts.

                            1. Fried won ton skins, cilantro, shoyu and green onions.

                              1. I usually make it with rice leftover from a Chinese meal. I use chicken stock and to with leftover bits of roast pork or duck, sliced scallions, chopped peanuts and a drizzle of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.

                                1. Lean pork and thousand year egg is my favourite.

                                  And it has to be thick for me with a starchy liquid suspending the rice... it's like risotto as you'd imagine but cooked much further. I'm not a fan of the more watery congees or the "chiu chow" style which is basically like rice in broth (is that actually how they have congee there, or is that a misunderstanding?).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Blueicus

                                    I am Chiu Chow and that's basically how they have their congee there. At home, we make it thicker than the traditional Chio Chow style (because some of us like it thick), and then my mom and my grandfather thin out their own portions to make it more brothy.

                                  2. When I make chao (viet style) I like to top mine with shredded cabbage for a bit of a crunch. Otherwise I like my soup flavored with chicken, garlic, and plenty of fried shallots and fresh chopped scallions.

                                    1. If it's homemade I tend to use marinated ground pork or pork sung, and I have the short grain rice, not jasmine. Also add dry beancurd sheet to it.

                                      Eating out I alternate between the seafood, just fish slices, ground beef or laiwan (boat? style - squid and bunches of unidentifiable objects). Somehow I remembered the ground beef jook in HK many many years ago doesn't seem to be the same as the ones in US (must be mixed with some sort of starch and tons of MSG). I actually prefer the thinner texture one made with jasmine rice. They seem more fragrant and less like gruel.

                                      1. A couple of weeks ago I had a really wretched stomach flu and the only thing that sounded remotely like something that I could keep down was congee. I ended up with plain rice, though, since I was afraid that if i asked my husband to make congee he'd go overboard and jazz it up. I just wanted plain comforting congee.

                                        1. My favorite has to be dakjook (dak = chicken), and I normally have it when I'm sick. The chicken can be eaten separately, usually with spiced soy sauce. While that is completely savory, patjook (pat = red bean) and hobahkjook (hobahk = pumpkin, but actually kabocha) are good desserty types of jook.

                                          If you live in LA, there are two locations of a Korean restaurant called JookHyang, which specializes in various Korean jook.

                                          1. One of my favorite childhood memories was to go to Da Shen Gong, "Loud Voice man" in the Taipei night market and eat shi fan with stir fried Chinese watercress (hollow stem) and lots of little stir fried dishes and cold mixed tofu with thousand year old eggs. Not in thr congee but as side dishes.

                                            1. Shanghainese have a variation called "pao fan" (泡饭) which is usually not as thick as jook. Pickled vegetables are an obligatory topping, and beyond that you can put in whatever you like. My wife likes to add fermented tofu (the stuff from a jar) and pidan.

                                              1. Everytime my mom can get her hands on a nice fresh abalone, she uses half of it for sashimi and half to make abalone juk. we top it with scallions and a dash of soy. :o)

                                                1. My mom is Malaysian Chinese, and I grew up having porridge with a spoonful of Bovril mixed in and topped with pickled veggies.

                                                  When in Singapore, I love it with shredded chicken, century egg, and lots of ikan bilis (dried anchovies).

                                                  1. reading this thread has gotten me on the worst comfort food craving in a while now.

                                                    congee... grandmother makes it best with pork bones stewed until their a fantastically soft tender meat that just needs to be poked off the bone with a spoon. toss in a few ginko nuts, boiled peanuts, a cilantro-scallion-ginger-parsley mixture and i'm quite happy. maybe a little soy... and tonnes of white pepper. and maybe thousand year egg....

                                                    plain is even ok, but to do it up on the quick i'll put in any tender meat although the dried pork floss stuff is the best as it just melts right into it all.

                                                    i'll eat it any time of the day, cold straight out of the fridge if i feel like it.

                                                    i've only really known it as jook, coming from a cantonese family. i've always been surprised how it's been translated into congee as the mainstream considering the high cantonese population in toronto.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                      Maybe only "jook sings" use the word "congee" ;-)

                                                      1. re: Gary Soup

                                                        I believe "congee" comes from kedgeree, a colonial English word coined from a Hindi word. According to wiki, the word is Khichdi - a dish or rice and lentils cooked together until mushy.

                                                    2. Filipinos make congee with rice, shredded or diced chicken, garlic, ginger and a little onion. Season with a little fish sauce, top with scallions, a little crispy garlic and tons of lemon juice. It was one of my favorite soups when I was sick and I remember taking bowls of it to my grandfather whenever he was hospitalized. Like many things in the Philippines, the name is Spanish (arroz caldo) but the origin is pure Chinese. Another variation is "arroz caldo con goto," the same congee with tripe substituted for the chicken.

                                                      1. Forget the turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving, you have to have turkey chao.

                                                        Take the turkey bones boil and skim the fat and bits for a couple hours. Get a cup of long grain rice (jasmine) saute dry until golden and add into broth and let simmer until all the rice has cooked and broken up. Add carmelized onions to flavor and nuoc mam to taste. The best ever. Thank you mom.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: septocaine_queen

                                                          that reminds me of the congee my laotion friend used to make very simply with bone in chicken pieces (chopped 1 inch), water and a touch of msg. she would top it off with fried garlic, slivered scallions and ground chili oil. yum.

                                                        2. I've been sick for the past few days and eaten nothing but what I had on hand - congee made with jasmine rice and canned chicken broth, pork sung, friend scallions and various pickled veggies. Nothing like really strong flavors to clear the sinuses.

                                                          1. After a few years of reading about congee, I finally tried it at a breakfast buffet (in New Zealand, of all places) where it was labeled congee. I promptly fell in love with it, and can't wait to get home and make it myself. they had a bunch of different condiments sitting around, I tried 2 helpings and my favorite was simple - a little green onion, a little soy sauce and a little sesame oil. I was worried that maybe I was doing it wrong, but I didn't care in the end because it was so delicious. Other options available (that I can remember): seaweed flakes, ginger and pickled vegetables. Wish I could remember more, but mostly I just keep thinking "must have congee, must have congee!"