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How to Make Jok (Thai Congee) for Breakfast

Asian Soups

If I close my eyes I can transport myself to Bangkok, to the early morning street stalls, where big pots of Jok (pronounced joke), a Thai congee, simmer away over charcoal grills amid the chaotic sounds and aromatic smells (both good and bad) of Bangkok. Along with Mohinga, Jok is one of my favorite Southeast Asian soup recipes. As I like to say, Jok is no joke! Best of all, unlike Mohinga, you can easily make Jok in your own kitchen.

What is Jok?

Jok is a Thai rice porridge, similar to Chinese rice congee, that is commonly served with pork meatballs, soft-boiled eggs, and a variety of Thai condiments and toppings such as fried onions and garlic, fish sauce, sliced fresh ginger, green onions, and cilantro. The congee is cooked in bone broth, making it light but incredibly nourishing at the same time.

Jok is an iconic part of Thai street food culture where it is typically served for breakfast. I absolutely fell in love with this Thai congee on my first trip to Thailand over 20 years ago, and on subsequent trips, it has been a highlight of my eating adventures. Here’s a short video of me eating Jok on the streets of Bangkok during my last trip to Thailand:

Eating Jok in Bangkok

Eating Jok in America

Of course, the point of this post is to make Jok at home. And it’s not exactly what we eat for breakfast here in America.

For starters, you might be thinking those pork meatballs are a little odd, because let’s face it, if you’ve grown up on Cheerios and Frosted Flakes, a breakfast that includes meatballs may not sound exactly, well, normal. No big deal. Simply leave the meatballs out if you want. Or add in some extra soft-boiled eggs.

But, if you’re one of the thousands waking up to the fact that American breakfast cereals aren’t exactly healthy foods, then perhaps Jok isn’t as strange a breakfast recipe as it may seem on the surface, even with the meatballs.

Furthermore, Jok is not spicy. In fact, there are no chiles in it at all. Chiles can be added but only as a condiment/topping.

MORE THAI AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN SOUP RECIPES TO TRY

A Quick Primer on Congee

If you’re unfamiliar with congee, it is basically the oatmeal of Asia. But it differs from oatmeal in two big ways. First, congee is made with jasmine rice instead of oats. The rice is cooked for an extended period in water or broth until it breaks down and forms a creamy porridge-like consistency.

And second, unlike oatmeal, which in America is usually sweetened to death, congees are savory.

What makes different types of congee, like Jok, different from each other, are the different aromatic spices, herbs, meats, and vegetables that are added to the rice. But the basic way to cook the rice when making congee is pretty universal.

How to Cook Rice for Congee

Congee is so simple to make. All you do is cook the jasmine rice at a very low simmer until the rice starts to lose its shape and break down. As the rice disintegrates, it will create a porridge-like consistency.

You can use broth or water to cook the rice but of course, I recommend some type of bone broth, like chicken broth or pork broth, for the boost in flavor and nutrients.

Just one cup of rice will actually make a lot of congee. You can then store this in your fridge and warm up smaller portions with broth on the stovetop.  

You want about 1 cup of rice to about 6 to 10 cups of water or broth. For a thinner more soup-like consistency use more liquid and vice versa. You can always add more liquid during the simmering if needed or cook it down more to thicken it.  

Bring the broth or water to a boil, rinse the rice a few times separately, and then add it to the boiling water, reduce the heat and cook at a very low simmer (the lowest setting on your stove) with the lid on but slightly ajar to let steam escape. Cook for 1 to 2 hours until the rice grains break down, stirring frequently.

I cannot overemphasize how important it is to stir frequently!  Once the congee starts to thicken it can easily burn the bottom of the pot.  And it can happen very quickly.  Do NOT allow yourself to become easily distracted when making congee. I have spent more time than I wish to admit trying to scrape severely blackened rice off the bottom of my pots. Many of my pots still have visible rice burns.  

Two Thai Congee Tips

1. Make large batches

Because it takes about 60 to 90 minutes to cook the rice into a porridge-like consistency, you’re obviously not going to cook Jok from scratch every time you have it, especially if you have that annoying thing every morning called a “job.”

Here’s what I do. At the beginning of the week, I’ll make a big portion of congee that will last me all week. For me, that means only 1 cup of rice. But if you’re cooking for more than yourself, you might want to use up to 2 cups of rice. 2 cups will make A LOT of Jok!

Regardless of how much congee you make, once you have the rice ready, everything else comes together very quickly.

Now it will get pretty thick and congealed in the fridge but no big deal. Every morning, I’ll scoop out a cup or two, add some broth or water to get the consistency I want, warm it up on the stove, and then add everything else. It all comes together in the same amount of time it will take you to make a bowl of boring ol’ oatmeal.

2. The magic of fried shallots and garlic

In Thailand, you’ll often find Jok being cooked over charcoal grills. It imparts a wonderful smoky flavor to the congee. Although it won’t quite be the same, frying some shallots and/or garlic adds its own vibrant, smoky flavor. I can’t recommend it enough! The flavor it imparts to not just Thai congee, but to many Thai dishes, is just magic. It also adds a nice contrasting crunchy texture.

You can often find some imported fried shallots and fried garlic products in Asian markets. I have also found a new domestic product called Hot Crispy Oil that I absolutely love which is a blend of fried shallots, garlic, olive oil, and chili peppers. The smoky flavor, the crunch, and the heat from the chilis — not too spicy but not too mild — is just perfect. It’s not exactly a traditional Jok condiment but it would work well and would save time if you’re not up for making your own fried shallots and garlic.

All that said, there’s nothing that can compare to homemade fried shallots and garlic. The vibrant flavors sizzle and pop when they’re fresh off the stovetop.

To make them at home, dice about 1 small shallot and 3 to 4 cloves of garlic. Melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a small wok or frying pan. Add the shallot first and brown for a few minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for about 1 more minute until it’s also browned.

Of course, you don’t have to cook them together. Many people prefer one or the other, but I love them both together.

More Nourishing Thai Soup Recipes

The recipe for Jok below, along with 39 other nourishing recipes, are included in my cookbook, The Thai Soup Secret. The recipes are specifically designed for my Thai food-loving fellow Americans who love Thai food but may be intimidated by some of the more exotic aspects of Thai cuisine. It includes iconic Thai soups such as tom kha gai, tom yum goong, and a Thai beef noodle soup, as well as less familiar recipes that are hard to find outside Thailand.

Thai Soup Secret cover

Transform Your Health with Thailand’s #1 Superfood!

Includes 40 restorative recipes for broths, congees, and soups. All gluten and dairy-free!

How to Make Jok (Thai Congee)

Jok (Thai Congee)

Jok is a Thai rice porridge, often served with pork meatballs and a variety of Thai condiments and toppings such as fried onions, garlic, fish sauce, sliced ginger, and green onions.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
CourseBreakfast, Soup
CuisineThai
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Servings5 servings
Calories221kcal
AuthorCraig Fear
Cost$10

Ingredients

For the congee:

  • 1 cup rice cooked in pork broth or chicken broth or water
  • 2 eggs

For the pork meatballs:

  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • 1-2 cloves garlic diced
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce or soy sauce

Seasonings, to taste

  • Ginger sliced into matchsticks
  • Scallions chopped
  • Fried garlic and/or shallots
  • Fish sauce and/or soy sauce
  • Black or white pepper

Instructions

  • Rinse 1 cup of white rice in water a few times.
  • Add 2 quarts of water or broth and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down and simmer gently for 60 – 90 minutes until rice breaks down and forms a porridge-like consistency.  Stir frequently to avoid burning and add more water if needed.
  • While rice is cooking, in a medium bowl, mix the ground pork with the garlic and fish sauce. Form the mixture into bite-sized meatballs.
  • When the rice is done, remove the pot from stove, and transfer one serving size (about 1 cup) to a separate pot. Add a little more water or broth if needed (I usually add chicken or pork broth) and return to a simmer. Add the pork meatballs and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until fully cooked.
  • Add the eggs and poach for a few minutes, or until the egg whites form and the yolks remain runny.
  • Remove the congee from the heat (the eggs will continue to cook in the hot broth).
  • Ladle the jok into a serving bowl and season with the ginger, scallions, fried garlic, fried shallots, fish sauce, soy sauce, and pepper, to taste. You may use any combination of those to suit your own tastes.
  • Let the main pot of congee cool and then store it in the fridge. It will thicken quite a bit from the starch in the rice. You'll now have a big pot of congee ready to go for the rest of the week. Simply repeat instructions 3 through 7.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups (1 bowl) | Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 134mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 97IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg
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How to Make Jok (Thai Congee) for Breakfast
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About the Author

Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.

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