|Ground pork is spooned from a dish into a hot pot of johk|
If you're out walking in the morning - especially in a commute area - you're likely to see a knot of people queued up to buy johk. Chinese would call it congee and some Westerners might call it rice porridge, but johk is a delicious dish, even if it comes in a bag.
Pronounced most closely to the English word "joke" it's basically just boiled (or in some cases twice-cooked) rice, reduced to a soft soup. Johk that's cooked from raw rice tends to have a little firmer consistency - or "tooth", if I may liken it to al dente pasta - than johk made from already cooked rice, but both are good, I think. Both involve boiling the rice to a very soft consistency.
I first had it served to me about 30 years ago by a Taiwanese friend studying here in the US as part of his medical training. I was visiting him for dinner at his home, and he began the meal with a bowl of chicken-based congee. I was in love. No, not with him, that didn't pan out... I meant with the porridge. We've stayed friends, though, and time spent with him in Taipei will probably pop up here at some point.
|Ladling johk into a to-go bag|
Additions to the bowl are most commonly ground pork or little pork meatballs, but they could also easily be duck eggs or chicken eggs (already soft-boiled, not raw or fully cooked), scallions/green onions, grated or chopped ginger and other add-ons that vary from place to place. Regardless of what's added to it a steaming bowl brings a heavenly scent up to the nose and a smile to the face.
You can add most anything else to it to your personal taste: fish sauce, shoyu (soy sauce), sugar, chilies (dried/flaked or in vinegar) and the likes. Let it steep a couple of minutes to allow the flavors to blend and then have at it.
At the beginning today I made a reference to dishes and bags, so let me clear that up. The stand I used photos of was primarily a to-go or take-away cart, and you can see the guy in the striped shirt holding what looks like an aluminum dish in his left hand. What it actually is is a funnel with a spout about 2.5 to 3" wide. He places the funnel into a plastic bag, ladles the johk into the bag, then seals the bag with a rubber band. The customer then carries the bag off with them to the office or wherever they're headed. You get a better look at the ladling action in the second photo.
I've read that it's a fine preventative for - or help with - a hangover, which is partly why you're likely to see it being sold in the wee small hours of the morning as people stagger towards home. No joke.