Juk 죽 aka Korean rice porridge has become my go to comfort food here as a soup lover. Seriously, soup addict here.
What is Juk or Rice porridge? Well think of it as a nice and very thick rice soup, sometimes grains, beans, meat, and vegetables are added, but it can be made VERY simply with just rice and water. Mainly Juk is thought of as Korea’s chicken soup, its the go to food for people who are sick, elderly, having digestive problems, hungover, and is praised as children’s food because it is nutritious and super easy to digest. A nice hearty bowl warms the tummy and makes all your problems go away~ or allows you to have a nice nap and sleep them off!
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You know when you over eat and you pass out for a nap, but feel gross? Well a Juk food coma nap feels so amazing… you are full and happy and wake up feeling great because its so easy on your body lol.
VERY basic Juk you might make for someone sick
The taste of Juk is normally (or traditionally) very simple and bland, but when eating it at a Juk restaurant now they use stocks with a bit more flavor vs water and you are often served sides of kimchi, shredded soy beef, and cold radish soup to eat with it~ It’s the best!!
Most Koreans always mince up at least some veges when making Juk at home now too though, because it has vitamins and adds a bit of color vs the plain one pictured above.
Nowadays if you want Juk with a bit more flavor or don’t have the time to make it yourself you can stop by one of the dozens of places that will make it for you! They have LOTS of places dedicated to serving JUST Juk all over Korea~ some people eat it in, others get it as take out.. apparently take out is the most common option since lots of people still only tend to eat Juk when they are not feeling well though.
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Most chains offer lots of varieties for every taste + even options made just for babies plus provide bottles for baby food so you can get your child’s meals made fresh and take them home~I really like that. You can see how popular this dish is for children if you stop by any chain for an early lunch, its always packed with mothers feeding little kids and bouncy toddlers.
You can also buy instant Juk from from the grocery store or mini stops like 7-11, they are generally kinds that you microwave or boil in bags to heat up and come in a range of choices and flavors. I have bought these a few times late at night and in my exp they are all pretty gross though, its best to just make your own They kinda have that weird artificial chemical taste.
Two very common chains worth visiting in Korea are Bon Juk 본죽 and Juk Iyagi (story) 죽이야기
both of these make great Juk, but Bon Juk 본죽 gives you larger servings + has a very tasty minced pickled squid they serve with the meal, while Juk Iyagi 죽이야기 has more tasty modern fun flavors like cheese and curry.
The inside of every larger Juk chain I have been in (and I eat at them a LOT) is always small, but clean and very comfy with a nice organic theme and color palate. They are cozy places to eat and usually nice and quiet. The menus for most of them also have pictures which make ordering a little less intimidating if you are new to Korea or eating Juk.
My favorite is Juk Iyagi’s Chicken Cheese Juk, it is SO GOOD with lots of cheese and bits of broccoli.
Some of this on a cold or rainy day is just best thing ever ♥
Other variations of Korean Juk are pumpkin, sesame, mushroom, seafood, sweet potato, pine nuts, abalone, ginseng, and many more. Each has a special thing it claims to help, some are good for nursing mothers, others for skin, the elderly, etc its like a bowl of yummy medicine and Koreans are all about organic treatments and medicine ♥ The price in specialized juk restaurants can be cost around 9,000won, or go to almost 20,000 won or more if fancy ingredients are used, so its considered a dish that’s a little more on the expensive side here for some people.
Typically when you order at one of the Juk restaurants you will get a set up very similar to the image. Large bowl of juk, smaller bowl to eat from, serving ladle, kimchi of some kind, 장조림 Jangjorim shredded beef in soy sauce, radish soup, and some kind of minced pickled squid (this is something Bon Juk does in particular) or chilli sesame paste as well. Usually the Juk is topped with seaweed flakes and sesame seeds for you to mix in~
Cheaper places may give you a bit less banchan/ sides with your meal, but I always seem to at least get kimchi and radish soup no matter where I order this dish.
I said it before, but again~ If you go to a Juk restaurant please remember, Korean juk is very bland for most as-is~ but if you add in those banchan 반찬 they give you it becomes delicious! I think many foreigners don’t realize that and just eat the porridge alone expecting a meal …so of course its boring! Add in that kimchi or meat! The texture is usually thick, not too runny~ and the veg and meat included in your “Flavor” is so finely diced up that sometimes its hard to tell if its your order, that the way its supposed to be ♥
Also don’t forget~like most Korean restaurants, the banchan (aka side dishes) are refillable!! Eat up!!
Image via visitkorea.or.kr
Now, for a little bit of basic history on Korean Juk before you chow down~ Juk is one of those dishes that has been served in Korea for hundreds of years. Versions of it exist in other Asian cultures, but the Korean variation is what we will be focusing on since…. well this is a blog about Korea. Duh!
The development of juk stemmed from a history of famine or food scarcity in Korea. Since early times, Koreans have enjoyed juk, which refers to a wide range of porridge dishes prepared by slow-boiling rice, rice mixed with other grains, or some other grain, in water until the grains become soft and viscous, making them easy to digest. In days gone by, when rice was often scarce, various porridge recipes were developed, even before steamed rice became a staple of the Korean diet. -Bucheon College Professor of Food and Nutrition Paik Jae-eun Via Koreana Magazine “Rice Porridge (Juk): A Practical Source of Nutrition“
Before I started writing this article I assumed that because it was a boiled dish that could be thinned out and cooked easily that it must be just a poor man’s dish, wrong! Juk was also something that the wealthy and Royalty of Korea also ate, typically at the first 5 a.m. meal of the day called chojoban… which was sort of like a starter meal for royalty (mainly of porridge) to get you going for the day before you sat down for proper breakfast.
Apparently it was also important for the future wife of a respectable family to be able to prepare around 20 types of Juk, that’s not the case now (thank god) but it is important that you at least know how to prepare it for your husband and/or family if they are sick or would like it! Its one of those things all Korean Mothers know how to cook.
With that in mind~ I decided to try and make my own! I’ll do a post about that and making Juk soon! ♥ ♥
Great news! While doing this I found out the chain Bon Juk actually has some locations in the USA now!! HERE Is a listing, but double check on yelp to see which location is still open before you go maybe! So Happy to find this out *_* Now I can eat juk even after we move home ♥