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This version of jook is fully loaded, but feel free to dial it back using what you already have on hand.

Thomas Girard

It's March and the chilly weather just won't quit. Spring is so close I can almost taste it, but I'm starting to get the feeling there might still be a couple more weeks of scarves and layers. At times like this, I turn to comforting foods to lift my spirits.

Comfort food to me is usually a grilled cheese or even a bowl of spaghetti the way my grand-mère used to make it, dishes I ate often growing up and feel very comfortable making. But in an attempt to change things up a bit at home recently and keep my creative juices flowing, I have been exploring other restorative recipes. Jook, or congee as it is also known, is one of those recipes and it might just be my new ultimate cure for what ails me.

A well-seasoned ginger and chicken-broth-infused rice porridge that could rival even the homiest of chicken noodle soups, jook is easy on the stomach and versatile to boot. Often consumed as simple breakfast fare, what I especially love about this dish is just how easily it pairs with all kinds of different toppings, making it flexible and adaptable to any meal of the day. Some of the gold-standard accompaniments for a more traditional Chinese version might include chopped salted peanuts, toasted sesame oil and sliced green onions, but as rice porridges are enjoyed in many countries around the globe (India, Singapore, the Philippines and Portugal, to name a few) there is literally a world of topping combinations at your fingertips.

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You might think I've gone a little overboard with this fully loaded version, but there really are no rules. Dive in ambitiously as I have or dial it back using what you already have on hand.

And a quick tip for the chili soy: The longer the chilies stay in the soy, the spicier this sauce will be. Remove the seeds from the chilies before slicing to tone down the spice a bit if you prefer.

Recipe: Fully loaded jook

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