Kung Hee Fat Choy! Happy Lunar New Year! Chook is not specifically associated with the new year celebration but I wanted to share it in honor of my popo.

Chook is a rice soup and is also known as congee. It's an everyday comfort food in Chinese homes. One of my favorite memories is having chook at midnight of the calendar new year. While the rest of the family was outside celebrating with fireworks and firecrackers, my popo was inside the kitchen preparing a huge pot of chook. After the last firecracker popped at midnight, we all came inside to enjoy a bowl or two before heading off to bed.

As is fairly typical in the Chinese home, we are frugal and like to make the most of what we have. This includes keeping the carcass from our Thanksgiving turkey or the bone from the Easter ham to make into stock. These days when I purchase rotisserie chickens I freeze the carcasses until I have enough to make a stock. Whatever we use, it makes a great base for chook. I make the stock one day and refrigerate the strained stock overnight to allow the fat to rise to the top. I use the de-fatted stock to make the chook.

Over the years my version of chook has changed from my popo's recipe. I've added Chinese black mushrooms because I love the flavor and texture and I've also added shredded chicken. The one thing I miss are the condiments that popo served with chook like sweet Chinese pickles. I keep things simple by serving it with chopped Chinese parsley (cilantro), green onions, and lettuce. Sometimes I only add a drizzle of soy sauce.

(Clockwise from top) Chinese black mushrooms, hoo jook, raw peanuts