Dak Juk: A Comforting Bowl Of Korean Porridge

The delicious rice porridge known as Juk is popular throughout Korea. The rice grains can be completely ground, or half ground, or left whole to create a variety of textures. Chicken or beef, scallops, jujubes, almonds, pumpkin, and other ingredients are all acceptable additions. Its typically mild flavour and soft texture make it the comfort food that is perfect for feeding the ill, the elderly, and babies. However, it's not just confined to those groups; anybody can take pleasure in a warming bowl of juk at any time. 

Although the preparation for this traditional dak (chicken) juk is fundamentally simple, there are a few important elements that guarantee excellent results. The veggies (in this case, zucchini, onion, and carrot) should first be minced as finely as you can, ideally to a size similar to the grains of rice themselves to allow for seamless tactile interaction between the vegetables and rice. The vegetables in this recipe seem odd and clumsy when they are cut larger. 

The quality of the broth you use is really important as well. Yes, you could whip together a quick juk with some leftover cooked chicken and store-bought stock, but homemade stock has a much richer flavour. Since there aren't many ingredients in this recipe, the ones you choose to use will truly stand out. It's not difficult—just cook a whole chicken in a pot with water and aromatics—but it does take some time because you need to prepare the broth first (although that time corresponds with the rice's soaking time, so you're not really speeding up the process if you skip creating the broth from scratch). Finally, it's important to sauté the rice in oil before adding the liquid. This enhances the rice's flavour, just like it does in an Italian risotto. A well-prepared juk of this sort must have a texture that is "still alive," which is made possible by toasting the rice. 

Here is the full recipe 


1 cup (215g) short-grain rice 

1 small (1.3kg) whole chicken 

8 medium cloves garlic, 6 whole and 2 finely minced, divided 

One 1-inch piece fresh ginger (10g), peeled 

3 scallions, ends trimmed, white and light green parts reserved for broth, green tops sliced thin on a bias, divided 

1 tbsp plus 2 tsp (25ml) toasted sesame oil 

1 small (115g) carrot, very finely minced 

1/2 small (160g) white onion, very finely minced 

1/2 medium (200g) zucchini or Korean summer squash, very finely minced 

Kosher or sea salt 

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish 


Rice should be soaked for an hour in a medium container with at least two inches of cool water. Drain thoroughly. In the meantime, combine the chicken, whole garlic cloves, ginger, and scallion whites with 2 quarts (2L) of cold water in a large Dutch oven or pot of comparable size. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook at a low simmer for 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the breast closest to the bone reads 150°F (66°C), and the joint between the thighs and body reads at least 175°F (80°C). Transfer the chicken carefully to the work surface, then let it remain there until it is safe to handle. Discard particles after straining broth through a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. Heat the sesame oil to sizzling condition in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Incorporate the drained rice and cook, stirring regularly, for about 3 minutes, or until a sticky film forms on the bottom of the saucepan. For about two minutes, add the rice, the carrot, the onion, and the zucchini. Cook, turning often until the veggies have softened somewhat. While doing this, shred the chicken meat, removing the skin and bones. Add the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic to the juk along with two thirds of the chicken flesh and the scallion greens, and simmer until the chicken is thoroughly warmed through. If the juk is too thick, thin it up as needed with the remaining broth (or reserve extra broth for another use). To taste, sprinkle salt on the juk. Pour the juk into individual serving bowls, top with the remaining pieces of chicken, the scallion greens, and sesame seeds, and then serve. 

The juk can be kept chilled for up to five days in an airtight container. Reheat on the stovetop, adjusting consistency if necessary with a little water or chicken broth.