Alva's Jook Recipe - Delicious Rice Porridge with Chinese Five-Spice Powder

Alva's Jook

Alva's Jook Recipe - Delicious Rice Porridge with Chinese Five-Spice Powder
Region / culture: USA | Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 4 hours | Servings: 10


Alva's Jook
Alva's Jook

Alva's Jook is a comforting and hearty soup that is perfect for any time of the year but especially soothing during the colder months. This recipe is a delightful blend of tender meat, aromatic spices, and nutritious vegetables, all simmered together to create a rich and flavorful broth. The addition of rice transforms the soup into a satisfying meal that is both filling and nutritious. Whether you're looking for a way to use up leftover turkey or simply craving a warm bowl of comfort, Alva's Jook is sure to hit the spot.


The origins of Alva's Jook can be traced back to traditional Chinese congee, a type of rice porridge that has been a staple in Chinese cuisine for centuries. Congee is known for its versatility and is often made with various ingredients such as meats, vegetables, and spices. Alva's Jook takes inspiration from this classic dish, incorporating elements like ginger, garlic, and five-spice powder to create a unique and flavorful version that pays homage to its roots while offering a distinct taste experience.


How to prepare

  1. Place the carcass in a pot along with the first 6 ingredients, ensuring that the bones are fully covered with the liquid.
  2. Heat the pot on high until the soup reaches a full boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer with the lid on for approximately 3 hours, or until most of the meat scraps have fallen off the carcass.
  4. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, remove all the bones and solids (excluding the turkey meat) and discard them.
  5. Once the solids have been removed, add the rice, Chinese five-spice powder, dried cilantro, sesame oil, and carrots to the pot.
  6. Cover the pot and let the soup cook on low heat for at least another 30 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked and the soup begins to thicken.
  7. Add the bite-sized slices of mustard cabbage and cook for an additional 5 minutes, then serve.
  8. Serve the soup in bowls and garnish with thinly chopped green onion and minced Chinese parsley on top.
  9. Grated fresh ginger can be served on the side.


  • While the traditional recipe for Alva's Jook is delicious as is, feel free to experiment with different ingredients to suit your taste preferences. Some variations include:
  • Using different types of meat, such as chicken, pork, or beef.
  • Adding other vegetables, such as mushrooms, spinach, or bok choy.
  • Incorporating different grains, like brown rice or quinoa, for a nutritional boost.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best results when making Alva's Jook, consider the following tips and tricks:

- Use a large pot to accommodate all the ingredients and allow for even cooking.

- Simmer the soup on low heat to allow the flavors to meld together and the meat to become tender.

- Regularly skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface during the cooking process to achieve a clear broth.

- Adjust the seasoning according to taste, but be mindful of the salt content, especially if using store-bought chicken soup as a base.

Serving Suggestions

Alva's Jook can be served as a main dish, accompanied by a side of steamed vegetables or a fresh salad for a complete meal. It's also perfect as a starter or a light lunch option. Garnish with green onions, minced parsley, and a side of grated ginger for an extra flavor boost.

Cooking Techniques

The key to a successful Alva's Jook lies in the slow simmering process, which allows the flavors to develop and the meat to become tender. Be sure to keep the pot covered and maintain a low heat to prevent the soup from boiling too vigorously, which can result in a cloudy broth.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you're missing an ingredient or want to make a substitution, consider the following options:

- Replace the Swanson's clear chicken soup with homemade chicken broth or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version.

- Use any type of rice you have on hand, though cooking times may vary.

- Substitute the Chinese five-spice powder with a combination of ground cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns.

Make Ahead Tips

Alva's Jook is a great make-ahead meal, as the flavors continue to develop and improve with time. Prepare the soup up to 2 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Reheat on the stove over low heat until warmed through.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Alva's Jook in deep bowls, garnished with finely chopped green onions and minced parsley for a pop of color. Offer grated fresh ginger on the side for guests to add according to their taste preferences. A drizzle of sesame oil just before serving can also enhance the soup's aroma and flavor.

Pairing Recommendations

Alva's Jook pairs well with a variety of side dishes. Consider serving it with steamed bok choy, sautéed greens, or a crisp cucumber salad for a refreshing contrast. For a heartier meal, accompany the soup with spring rolls or dumplings.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, transfer the desired amount of soup to a pot and warm it over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. If the soup has thickened too much upon storage, you can add a little water or broth to achieve the desired consistency.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Alva's Jook is relatively low in calories, making it a suitable option for those watching their calorie intake. The exact calorie count can vary depending on the specific ingredients used, but a typical serving is nourishing without being overly heavy.


A serving of Alva's Jook is a good source of carbohydrates, primarily from the medium-grain rice used in the recipe. Carbohydrates are essential for providing the body with energy, and the rice in Alva's Jook helps make it a filling and energizing meal. The vegetables in the soup, such as carrots and Chinese cabbage, also contribute a small amount of carbohydrates, along with dietary fiber.


The fat content in Alva's Jook comes mainly from the meat used in the recipe. The amount of fat can vary depending on the type of meat and whether any additional fat is trimmed off before cooking. The sesame oil also adds a small amount of healthy fats, which are beneficial for heart health. To reduce the overall fat content, you can opt for leaner cuts of meat or skim off any excess fat that rises to the surface during cooking.


Alva's Jook is an excellent source of protein, thanks to the generous amount of meat included in the recipe. Protein is crucial for building and repairing tissues, making this soup a great option for post-workout recovery or to support overall health. The protein content can vary depending on the type of meat used, with turkey being a lean and high-protein choice.

Vitamins and minerals

This soup is packed with vitamins and minerals, largely due to the variety of vegetables used. Carrots and Chinese cabbage are rich in vitamins A and C, which are important for immune function and skin health. The parsley and green onions used for garnish also provide additional nutrients, including vitamin K and iron.


Alva's Jook is free from many common allergens, such as nuts, dairy, and eggs. However, those with gluten sensitivities should be cautious of the soy sauce and chicken broth used, as they may contain gluten. Always check the labels of store-bought ingredients to ensure they meet your dietary needs.


Overall, Alva's Jook is a nutritious and balanced meal that provides a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, along with a variety of vitamins and minerals. It's a wholesome choice for anyone looking for a comforting and healthful dish.


Alva's Jook is a versatile and nourishing soup that combines the comforting flavors of traditional Chinese congee with a hearty mix of meat, vegetables, and rice. Whether you're looking for a way to use up leftover turkey or simply in need of a warm and satisfying meal, this recipe is sure to please. With its rich nutritional profile and the ability to customize it to your liking, Alva's Jook is a wonderful addition to any meal plan.

How did I get this recipe?

The memory of finding this recipe for the first time is a special one. It was a hot summer day, and I was browsing through an old cookbook that I had picked up at a yard sale. As I flipped through the pages, a handwritten note caught my eye. It was a recipe for Alva's Jook, a traditional dish that I had never heard of before.

Intrigued, I read through the ingredients list and instructions. The recipe called for rice, chicken broth, ginger, and green onions, among other things. It seemed simple enough, but I could tell that this dish was special. It was a labor of love, a dish that had been passed down through generations.

I decided to give it a try. I gathered all the ingredients and set to work in the kitchen. As I cooked, the fragrant aroma of ginger and green onions filled the air. I could feel the warmth of the dish enveloping me, comforting me like a hug from an old friend.

When the jook was finally ready, I ladled it into a bowl and took a hesitant bite. The flavors exploded in my mouth, each ingredient complementing the others perfectly. It was like nothing I had ever tasted before.

I knew that I had stumbled upon something special, a hidden gem that I would cherish forever. I wanted to learn more about the origins of this recipe, so I reached out to the person who had written the note in the cookbook.

As it turned out, Alva was a dear friend of my grandmother's, a woman who had lived in China for many years. She had learned the recipe from her own grandmother, who had passed it down through the generations. Alva had written the recipe in the cookbook as a way to preserve her family's culinary heritage.

Alva was kind enough to invite me into her home and teach me how to make the jook the traditional way. We spent hours in her kitchen, chopping vegetables, simmering broth, and stirring the rice until it was perfectly cooked. Alva shared stories of her childhood in China, of family gatherings and celebrations centered around a steaming pot of jook.

By the time we sat down to enjoy the meal, I felt like I had been transported to a different time and place. The jook tasted even better than before, infused with the love and history that Alva had shared with me.

Since that day, Alva's Jook has become a staple in my own kitchen. I make it for special occasions, for family gatherings, and whenever I need a taste of comfort and tradition. Each time I prepare the dish, I think of Alva and her generosity in sharing her family recipe with me.

I am grateful for the chance to learn from Alva, to connect with her through the timeless art of cooking. Through her recipe, I have discovered a new appreciation for the power of food to bring people together, to bridge cultures and generations.

As I write down the recipe for Alva's Jook in my own cookbook, I know that it will be a cherished treasure for me and for future generations. It is a reminder of the importance of preserving our culinary heritage, of honoring the traditions that shape who we are.

And so, whenever I make Alva's Jook, I will think of the hot summer day when I first discovered the recipe, of the friendship that blossomed between Alva and me, and of the love and history that infuse every spoonful of this delicious dish.


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