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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Taking care of my sick husband

Poor JM has been sick the last couple of days, and today he even stayed home from work. Yesterday the only food he ate was a tiny little granola bar and a small bowl of rice cooked in chicken stock. :( So what do I do to help him feel better? Why make chicken soup, of course!

Actually, what I made was 닭죽, which is Korean chicken porridge (pronounced "dak jook"). You can find a pretty good recipe here... but that's not what I did. I didn't want to go out to the store to buy a cornish hen (they're too expensive anyway -- just use a small chicken, or even leg quarters). Usually I would follow the recipe a lot closer, but we had homemade chicken stock and shredded chicken in the freezer... it just made more sense to do it this way.

Today's 닭죽 (chicken porridge):

Soak 1 cup brown rice mixture (medium grain brown rice, sweet white rice, and barley) for at least 2 hours. Dump frozen chicken stock into a decently sized pan. Turn on heat and wait for it to melt. Meanwhile add 8 cloves of garlic (or however many is to your taste) into the pan. After stock has melted, check to make sure there is "enough" broth. If there is not enough, add water to compensate (I don't know how much is enough... I just kept adding until it looked right). For however much extra water you add, add the appropriate amount of chicken base. I like chicken base better than bouillon, but if that's what you have then it will do. Add some shredded chicken. Maybe about 3/4 cup? I just added until it looked like in every bite there would be at least a little bit of chicken. Bring to a boil and add in the rice. Turn down to a simmer. The porridge is done when the rice begins to split open. I cooked mine for about 40 minutes on medium-low heat. The soup should be pretty thick, something like this. You can either add salt/pepper to the soup directly or let diners add their own. You could also add green onion if you like that sort of thing (I do not).

By the way, dak jook is *much* better when it is made from scratch. It's totally worth the extra effort to make the stock fresh. The stock I used had a lot of other flavors in it (celery, carrot, onion, bay leaf, etc) and the chicken base had its own flavors, too. There's just something really good about a very simple broth made from just chicken and lots of garlic.

However, I know that many Americans don't love garlic like the Koreans do. So if that is you, here is how to modify the original recipe to make a wonderful American-style chicken and rice soup:

Ingredients
1 medium sized chicken (or 2 lb meaty chicken parts bone-in)
1 onion
1 stalk celery
2 carrots
1/2 tsp black pepper (or more)
1 bay leaf (optional)
3 whole cloves (optional)
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1 radish, peeled and halved (optional -- but I think radishes are absolutely essential for American-style chicken broth)
1 cup brown rice or brown rice mixture, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
water
salt to taste

Directions
Chop onion, celery and carrot. The pieces can be as large or small as you like. If you are making the soup for a very sick person, you could even mince them very small so that they don't have to chew. Add to a stock pot with the chicken. Add enough water to just cover the chicken if using a whole chicken or cover by an inch or two if using parts. You can always add more water later if needed. Add pepper, bay leaf cloves, garlic, and radish (if using). For a really sick person, add some a piece of ginger to the broth, about a pinky length. It will kind of detract from the flavor, but it's good for making you feel better. Bring to a boil, skimming the top of the broth as needed. Turn down to a good steady simmer and leave alone for an hour to an hour and a half. Remove the bay leaf, cloves, ginger and if you like you can take out the garlic and radish as well. Take out the chicken and set aside. Add in the rice (with the soaking liquid if you need more broth) and return to a boil. Turn to a simmer again. Shred the meat off the chicken bones and return to the soup (unless you are going for a no-need-to-chew version). It is ready to eat when the rice has overcooked such that the grains have split open. Add salt to taste before serving. Enjoy!

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3 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Anonymous

    SIL told us JM was not well Monday. So, now you are experiencing the other side of "in sickness and in health"! Take good care of him. Hope he's better soon!

    FIL

  • Iris

    I'm sorry to hear that JM is sick. Feel better soon! I'm sure you will, with Harmony's TLC. Guess the Airborne did not work in time.

  • CappuccinoLife

    Hope JM is feeling better.

    That soup recipe looks so similar to one that we use. I generally don't get enough stock in it though. But lots of garlic and rice!

    I guess every culture has it's equivelant of "Jewish penicillin". :)