Saturday 5 July 2008

Congee. Good fer wot ails yer.

Congee, the Asian equivalent of chicken soup, Jewish penicillin, whatever it is that you cook for your loved ones when you're sick. And, as previously discussed, I am a sickly pg at the moment. With my taste faculties destroyed by the lurgy, eating has become a chore. And I need to get the most bang-for-my-buck, nutrition-wise. My sore throat precludes anything crunchy, or hard, so congee is the answer to getting something... anything down my throat. It's chock-full of goodies as well, so I made a big pot of it last night to feast on this weekend. And the Furry's kids lost their beloved Nannu (Maltese for Grandpa) on Thursday, so we're all in need of some home cooking comfort.

Congee is a traditional Asian breakfast, but is also a very tummy-soothing dish to serve after an illness. It's so digestible, that it is often served to babies as their first "real" food. There are a thousand variations of congee, Cantonese, Japanese, with rice, with beans, with pine nut flour, with vegetables. It's not terribly quick to make, but it IS easy. Here's my take on it.

In a large saucepan/stock pot, boil 2 cups of white rice (I used long-grain) with 6 cups of water and 1 litre of beef stock. Add a handful of dried shitakes, diced fresh brown mushrooms, 2 pork=belly spare ribs, cleavered into bite-sized chucks, 2 x 5cm strips of orange peel, 6 szechuan peppercorns and star anise. Boil until rice grains break down and form a porridge consistency (Mine took about 1.25 hours). Stir regularly, particularly towards the end, as it thickens, or it will catch.

You can use broken rice to cut the cooking time down, or even use cooked rice, whizzed up in a food processor.

IN another bowl, break 3 eggs and beat them with a fork. Add a couple of drops of sesame oil and a couple of drops of light soy.

Turn the heat right down, until the congee is gently simmering. Pour the egg mix into the congee in a slow stream. You will end up with ribbons of egg throughout your mix (egg flowers), Serve hot, topped with sliced raw spring onions and a smattering of crispy deep fried shallotts.



stickyfingers said...

"Hobe yer fillin bedda ... snort!"

Congee - or jook in Cantonese - is definitely good for what ails ya. It's eaten all day as a substitute for a bowl of steamed rice in Southern China and comes with many different toppings. That's one subject and recipe I have earmarked for a future winter comfort food post.

Our family recipe is different and includes soaking rice overnight and using dried tofu skin for a creamy consistency...but I'll leave the details for my own post. You know where to find me if you want the recipe now.

Got stuck into the jumbo sized aloe vera tissues? xx

Vida said...

Hope you get better soon. Vida x

stickyfingers said...

On the subject of Chinese cure-alls, I have been making my quarterly vat of Chinky master stock this weekend and realised on the initial boil up, that the spices involved smell just like some of the herbal brews my Chinese Dr of Traditional Medicine cooks up when I'm crook.

It's no wonder then that a bowl of pho or proper wonton soup (made with real stock not Maggi granules) can make you feel so much better when you're fighting bugs.

The spices used are star anise, cassia bark, fennel seeds and large whole brown cardamom pods with some slices of bashed up fresh ginger. BTW don't let anyone tell you that you can sub cassia with cinnamon - doesn't work as well. It must be a chemical reaction thingy.

Get ye to Springy for a slurp!