Winter is pretty cold in Korea and this winter especially was freezing cold. The lowest temperature in Seoul got as low as 3°F ! Yikes!! So hot belly warming foods like soups and porridge are very popular this time of year. Korean food has many different kinds of porridge (죽 jook). They are made with abalones (my personal favorite), pumpkin, red bean, mung bean, pine nuts, spinach, beef, chicken, oysters..and the list goes on. Koreans love jook. They eat jook for breakfast, as appetizers and almost always when they are sick. They are now many chain restaurants that serve only jook and they are very popular.
According to history, jook was part of Korean food even before plain rice became the main staple. Just as our ancestors started farming they started to make jook out of different grains, nuts, vegetables and hunted meats. Probably because jook is quite easy to make and was a great way to feed many hungry families with small amount of food. I mean, if you look at the recipe, jook is almost 90% water. Also because jook is easier to digest and usually made with nutritious ingredients, they are great for babies and for sick people.
Making jook is not difficult at all but it is not by any means a quick food. You need time for it to cook fully. But once you make a batch, you can store and eat it for days so it can be worth the time.
Here are also some nutritional facts about sesame seeds : “Sesame seeds are a very good source of copper and a good source of magnesium and calcium. Just a quarter-cup of sesame seeds supplies 74.0% of the daily value for copper, 31.6% of the DV for magnesium, and 35.1% of the DV for calcium. And black sesame seeds are known to have even higher fiber and calcium content than regular sesame seeds. They are also a good source of iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber.” (whfoods) Koreans often eat black sesame seeds jook after surgery to regain their strength and to also to help with constipation.
Cooking Time : 1 hr (for soaking) + 20 min Difficulty: Medium Servings: 6
- 1/2 C Roasted black sesame seeds (you can also use regular sesame seeds although black sesame seeds are more nutritious)
- 1 C Short Grain Rice
- 5~6 C Water (water will be divided and used at different stages)
- 1 tsp Salt
- Sugar or Honey (optional)
- Dried jujubes/pine nuts/almond (as garnish)
- Measure 1 C of rice and let it soak in water for 1 hour or more and drain.
- Measure 1/2 C of black sesame seeds. Rinse and drain.
- When the rice is fully soaked, finely grind the rice with 1 C (out of 5) of water. It should come out looking something like this:
Depending on the power of your blender, it may not come out fully smooth right away. Try straining it to see if there are any bigger bits. You can grind the bigger pieces a second time with some additional water if you want your jook to be totally smooth. Some people prefer to have their jook with bits that they can chew on. However you like it. Set aside.
- Finely blend the black sesame seeds with 2 C of water. Instead of adding all of the water at once, start blending with less water (more like 1/2 to 1 C) and gradually add more. Unless you have a blender as powerful as vitamix, your blender will not be able to finely grind it if you add the full 2 C of water from the start.
- Mix the blended rice and black sesame seeds in a pot. (NOTE: because I blended my rice and sesame mixture really finely, I just cooked everything together directly in the pot. If your blended mixture is coarse, you may want to separate the solid rice and sesame bits and theire liquid by straining. Mix and cook the two liquids first (just for 2 min) and then add the solid rice and sesame bits later. )
- Turn on the heat to medium high and keep stirring until it starts to boil. Stir in remaining 2~3 C of water as it cooks. Cook at low heat for 10-15 min. Make sure you continue to stir (I used a whisk) to prevent any rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- When the jook is fully cooked (with 2 C of water added in step 6), it should be quite thick (consistency of thick batter) as shown here:
If you like yours to be a little more thin, add more water (up to 1 C) and it will come out looking more smooth like the first photo on top.
- Season with salt (1 tsp) to taste. Do NOT add salt early on while it’s cooking but only AFTER it’s fully cooked. Salt can dissolve the rice and make the jook watery. Believe me, I’m not talking about the jook just turning thin, adding too much salt or adding it too early will basically ruin the porridge. A good way is to not season before serving but allow each person to season it themselves right before they eat.
- Optionally you can add sugar or honey to the jook or serve it on the side with the jook (which I recommend).
Right consistency of porridge – Use 5 or 6 C of water?
The consistency is very much a personal preference. Adding only 5 C of water will produce a jook that’s thicker, closer to a pudding. The picture below shows the black sesame jook when only 5 C of water is added:
- Add other nuts such as pine nuts or walnuts to add more nutty flavor.
- You can use regular sesame seeds instead.
- Use sweet rice powder instead of plain rice. 1 C of sweet rice powder and 5 C of water will work.