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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

I never realized food could be the enemy. I’ve always had a really great relationship with my food, and my stomach (with the exception of some ulcers in high school). I’ve never been the type to shy away from Indian curries or Thai spices because of you-know-what. Heck, I’ve never even had the stomach flu. I don’t know when the last time I threw up was (due to not-college-related-stuff)…oh wait. That would be last Thursday.

Let me preface this all by reminding you that I’ve been sick since before dead week. That’s coming up on 5 or 6 weeks. I started out with a really chesty cough that almost sounded like whooping cough (but didn’t hurt as much as when I had the real deal in high school) that led to a sinus infection while I was in Iceland, which I assume led to an extremely compromised immune system. So, when I went out to dinner on Thursday night and ate a TON, I thought my stomach ache was due to just that–overeating. And then I paused. When the heck have I ever had a stomachache from overeating? NEVER.

Still, I couldn’t go to sleep, and finally threw up. Then I continued throwing up until morning at which point I was extremely tired and dehydrated. Still, I managed to make a trip to the mall with my friends to look for some sunglasses (to no avail), which probably wasn’t a good idea. Stabbing pains in my abdomen and nausea galore. So this is what food poisoning feels like.

I delayed my drive to Berkeley by 2 days and my mom even ended up coming with me because she was worried about my health on a 6 hour drive. I think my point was that I got food poisoning only because I had been so sick for so long beforehand. Merrrr.

So I’ve been eating really mild foods since then, mostly consisting of bread and rice and water, but yesterday I took my first step into normalcy with a lame turkey sandwich. Woo!

Last night for dinner, Andy and I waited around for Nick only to hear that he had eaten at a baby shower earlier. Though we were planning to eat out, I realized that would probably be a little too bold for me and Andy didn’t want to go alone, so I said that I could make some jook (because it’s easy and mild. Nick described it as “Chinese chicken noodle soup”…sans noodles of course).

Jook, perhaps better known as “congee” (for reasons I will never understand) is a rice porridge dish served for breakfast and/or with dim sum. My mom made this filling soup almost every weekend for breakfast, and hers is always chock-full-o’ meats, mushrooms, and the feared “hundred year old egg” (which is really just a seasoned & preserved duck egg. my personal favorite).

I finally realized that it was stupid that I didn’t know how to make this stuff because it seemed pretty simple (part of the reason my mom made it so frequently) so I asked her about it over break. Here’s the recipe, as vaguely explained by my mom (but hey, it came out pretty well last night):

the final product! the stuff on top is dried, shredded, seasoned pork. i think it looks kinda funky but it's delicious; when i asked andy if he knew what it was, he look at me in utter disbelief and said "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I GREW UP ON THIS STUFF."



  • whatever meat you want, in whatever quantity you want, cooked or uncooked. I used 1 raw chicken breast here.
  • 1-1.5 cups uncooked rice (depending on the size of your soup vessel; mine was a medium-large sized pot & I used 1 cup of rice…sorry I don’t know the specifics)
  • salt
  • a couple chunks of fresh, peeled ginger
  • scallions
  • soy sauce
  • whatever else you want, ie mushrooms, etc.


  1. Rinse the rice a couple of times in the bottom of the pot.
  2. Add enough water to almost fill the pot–my water level was about 2 or 3 inches from the top. 
  3. Bring the pot to a boil. A real boil. Not the wimpy, impatient kind.
  4. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, add a little bit of salt (you can always add soy sauce later to taste), cut up your meat into bite size pieces and throw that in, and add your extras.
  5. As soon as the water boils, turn it down to medium-low and simmer the whole pot for 1 hour.
  6. My mom’s most important tip: NEVER, EVER MIX THE POT. NEVER. NOT AT ANY POINT. This causes the rice to stick to the bottom of the pot, for reasons the scientific universe may not be able to explain. Just don’t do it. DON’T. STIR. THE. POT.

And that’s it! My jook came out a little bit waterier than I like, so I will probably add more rice next time. My mom says that it’s always better to make it thicker, because you can add some hot water at the end and mix it in to the desired consistency. As you probably figured out, this is poor man’s food. It’s really good for throwing leftover “stuff” in from the night before. You know us Chinese folk, always so resourceful.

A side note: you can also make this stuff in a standard rice cooker.  Use the same proportions you would in a regular pot, set the rice cooker, and just let it cook for about an hour and 15-20 minutes or so. Easy peasy.

I’m in kind of this weird Asian-cooking mode right now, and because Nick wants me to basically be his wife and cook for him when he gets back from work everyday, I’m excited to try out some new recipes this/next week. Coming up: Japanese curry & Lu Dan (soy sauce eggs +beef noodle soup).


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