Also called congee in many places, it’s a dish made in several Asian countries, including China, Burma, Vietnam, Japan, Tibet, Thailand, etc.
I came across this particular recipe for Turkey Jook several years back in the San Francisco Chronicle. The article, and the dish itself, changed my life in several ways, even made me a better guy.
Wait, what?! “Changed my life…?!”
Seriously? YES, and not just seriously, but also collectively: the idea, the recipe, and even the philosophy I later linked to it. But come on, “It made you a better person??!” Yep. Here’s how.
First, the idea. I love the concept of using leftovers to make a meal. This dish is spot-on with my favorite approach of making the most of what you have in the fridge and in the pantry.
With this particular concoction, you’re actually using a turkey carcass to make your dish, which is why it goes so well right after Thanksgiving (in the U.S., which the bird is front and center on most family menus). How good is that from a minimalist, use-everything-you-got mentality? Often times the carcass gets discarded after the Thanksgiving meal; this recipe gives you the perfect chance to use every last morsel and bit of turkey flavor goodness. And besides, you’ll get like 8 to 10 servings from one batch. Even better!
Second, the recipe. This one is super simple. So simple is it that it becomes a confidence builder for those folks aspiring to be more active in the kitchen. Even if you’re a cooking veteran, this recipe is for you. It’s super delicious once the dish is complete, and it’s also versatile. A pot of jook allows far a wide variety of garnishes to be used to enhance the flavor.
Third, it added to a blossoming philosophy I’ve mixed into my belief system. Huh? A rice porridge is somehow linked to a philosophy?
Yes yes, and that’s maybe the most fundamental way it’s made my life better. So what’s the linkage between food and philosophy (for me anyway)?
The basic way of thinking is called “minimalism”, and the idea is a simple one. Rid our lives of things that create clutter, live more simply, make the most of the things you have, foods you buy, etc. It’s a concept I’ve tried to live by more as I’ve gotten older, and certainly since I became a parent. I’m striving to teach my kids a simple, grateful, satisfying way to live. Want to learn more about this philosophy? Here’s a good place to start.
So that’s my trifecta of culinary inspiration. All from the humble bird that goes gobble gobble, and a newspaper article in the Food Section nearly a decade ago. So, are you ready to try? If that turkey carcass didn’t get throw out over the weekend, have a go at Turkey Jook ~ you’ll be glad you did!