Saturday, 5 July 2008
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.