First thing that comes to mind is probably baby food or hospital gruff. Most folk’s would never think of ordering it from a menu in a restaurant, much less wake up and crave it for breakfast, if they hadn’t tasted or at least seen it before.
Now, let’s try again :
Congee. Lúgaw. Chok. Xifan. Juk. Okayu.
OK, that’s better
Sounds more interesting and exotic? These are just a few names given to rice porridge around the world. If there is a country or region which traditionally eats rice, then there is some form of rice porridge eaten.
Congee can be enjoyed as breakfast, snack, lunch or dinner. Congee most often contains rice, but other grains can be used. Ideally it is made with strong, tasty stock that infuses great taste and debt into the dish. But from there on, let your fantasy run wild. Congee can be made with seafood, meat, vegetables or a combination thereof. Then there are the toppings. Pickled vegetables, fried shallots, sliced scallions, pulled mushroom stems, crisp fried garlic, dried shrimps, 100 year eggs, cilantro, etc, etc. If you like it, put it on.
Below is a version I made on sunday for breakfast. The texture is more like a filipino Lugaw, with the rice VERY soft but still keeping it’s shape. At first I was not so sure about the smoked pigstails. I was worried they might be too overpowering. But not to worry. The taste was very rich with only a hint of smokiness. Another slightly unusual ingredient (served as condiment) was the freshly grated horseradish, although when you think of the japanese version Okayu, wasaby seems to be a fitting condiment. I prepare congee at home often, this version is definitely special and a great addition to my congee repertoire.
All about CONGEE
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Smoked pig’s feet,
Corn on the cob, cut into thick slices
Chinese unsmoked sausages, thinly sliced
Bell peppers, diced
Horseradish, freshly grated
Peanut oil, to saute
Saute garlic and ginger in peanut oil until fragrant. Add water and pigstails. Simmer pigstails in unseasoned water for about an hour or until starting to become tender. Taste stock and if necessary season with salt and pepper. (Some smoked meats can be overly salted, so don’t season at first) Add rice and very slowly simmer for another hour or until the rice is close to the texture you desire. Now add the corn, diced peppers and sausages. Simmer for another fifteen minute. At this point, adjust texture and seasoning if necessary. If the congee is too thick for your liking, add some hot stock. If it is too thin, simmer longer or strain some of the liquid.
To serve, sprinkle with scallions and cilantro. Drizzle with chili oil.
Serve with horseradish and soy sauce. Acompanied by Oolong tea.
Bon Appetit ! Life is Good !