Dak Juk and Do Chua

Kim Sam Soon 01
Sam Soon delivers juk to Jin Heon. I wish she had dumped it on his head.

Sickness in my family usually means that my mom will make a fast-and-dirty version of chicken soup.  Rice, barley, canned chicken, dried vegetable flakes…it may sound like a pathetic excuse for chicken soup but it is actually quite good.  And it’s a heck of a lot easier and faster to make than from scratch.

During a recent bout with stomach upset, my mom instructed me to make some soup, but to cook the rice a lot longer so that it fell apart…which put me in a mindset to try juk, the Korean version of rice porridge.

My first introduction to juk was through Boys Over Flowers.  Jan Dee and her friend worked at a congee shop – congee being another name for basically the same dish.  Then there was My Name is Kim Sam Soon, shown above, when Sam Soon made juk for a supposedly sick Jin Heon.  Those are just two examples out of many.

Dak (chicken) juk sounded like just the thing.  A quick search of my favorite Korean recipe blogs turned up several variations with varying levels of difficulty.  I went with the one posted on Aeri’s Kitchen because it was both simple and seemed easy to modify with what I had on hand – i.e. canned chicken instead of raw.

Any time I boil chicken I save the broth and freeze it (unless I’m using it right away for say, chicken and dumplings or something), so I thawed 3 cups while soaking the ½ cup of sweet rice.

My mom prefers to buy jars of minced garlic, and I agree that it’s nice to have on hand.  But I also like to use fresh garlic – however, keeping it from sprouting before I use it all can be a problem.  My compromise is to buy peeled, whole garlic cloves in a jar and mince as needed using this little device:

Garlic Chopper

Back to making juk – after soaking the sweet rice for 3 hours, I heated the broth and added the rice, canned chicken, and 5 whole cloves of garlic from the above jar.  I cooked it 20 minutes on med-low, at which time I tasted it and added a little salt and pepper.  The recipe said to cook it another 10 minutes on low, but I felt it didn’t need it.  Here’s the finished product:

Dak Juk

It was so very good and perfect for my queasy stomach.  I plan to try this again using regular short-grained rice instead of sweet rice to see what kind of difference it makes.  This was a really nice basic recipe, quite good on its own, but I can also see the potential of adding mushrooms, diced carrots, even cheese (for when I’m not so sick).  The success of this dish has me pumped to try some of the different variations of juk, such as one made with pine nuts.

*****

A few weeks ago some friends and I ate at a Korean restaurant and one of the banchan served was this little bowl of pickled strips of radish and carrots.  It was so good my friend purchased some at the nearby Korean market.

Last weekend I decided to look up the recipe so I could make my own and I discovered that it is actually Vietnamese in origin.  Do chua, as it’s called, is simply julienned daikon and carrots pickled in vinegar, water, and sugar.

I had Korean radish on hand, so I made a batch using this recipe.  I also had a bottle of coconut vinegar that’s been sitting in my pantry for almost 3 years because I didn’t know what to do with it, so I used it instead of regular white vinegar.

Do Chua

This stuff is SO good.  It has the bite of vinegar but it’s sweet as well.  It makes an excellent accompaniment to kimchi fried rice, as my daughter and I quickly discovered.  I sent some to my mom and she also loved it.  I do believe this will become a staple item in my fridge.

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