How to make the perfect congee

How to Make the Perfect Congee (Jook) (粥)

Rice congee (rice porridge) is comfort food to the Chinese. It is often made (lovingly) by a mother for a sick child. Why congee? It is soothing, nourishing, easily digestible, easy on the stomach and hydrating due to the amount of water used. There are different versions with varying consistency. I like the Hong Kong version best – thick and creamy and so flavoursome. It features regularly at breakfast, lunch or late night meal in many Hong Kong homes.

The basic congee can be enhanced with flavouring such as marinated pork, chicken or fish.

INGREDIENTS

BASIC CONGEE: (for 2)
1/2 cup rice (choose pearl rice & mix with some jasmine rice)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
4 cups of water or chicken stock
A handful of dried scallops or dried prawns (soaked in warm water till softened)

TOPPING:
1/2 tsp sesame oil
chopped spring onion (green portion)
ginger slices
white pepper
sliced yau char kwai (fried dough stick) or deep fried vermicelli

CHICKEN & MUSHROOM
4 Chinese mushrooms (soaked in hot water till plump
2 chicken thighs (cut into cubes & dried with kitchen paper)
Marinade:
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp ginger (sliced)
1/2 stalk spring onion (sliced) use white part
1 tbsp cooking wine
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp oil (add after marinating chicken for 15 minutes)

BRAISED PORK
Click here to recipe.

FISH SLICES
1 white fish fillet (thinly sliced) & marinated with
1 tsp of soya sauce
Ginger (thinly sliced)

METHOD

1. Prepare the basic congee:
Stir salt and oil into the washed rice. Add 1/2 bowl of water and soak the rice for 1-2 hours or overnight.
Pour 4 cups of water or chicken stock in a pot. (I use a rice cooker, go through 2 normal cycles as for cooking rice)
Add soaked scallops or dried prawns (together with soaking liquid).
Bring it to the boil before pouring the soaked rice into the boiling water. Bring it back to the boil.
Reduce heat to medium and allow the rice to bubble for 45 minutes until it reaches a creamy consistency.
Stir every 10 minutes to prevent the rice/congee from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Add salt and white pepper to taste.
Ladle a generous portion of congee into serving bowls.
Top with sesame oil, chopped spring onion, ginger slices, white pepper and sliced yau char kwai (fried dough stick) or deep fried vermicelli).

2. For congee with marinated chicken & mushroom
Add soaked mushroom together with dried scallop or dried prawn when cooking the congee.
Once the congee has reached a creamy consistency, turn up the heat and add the marinated chicken.
Cook for 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
Add salt to taste.

3. For congee with braised pork
Add braised pork when the congee starts to bubble.
Once the congee has reached a creamy consistency, add salt and white pepper to taste.

4. For congee with sliced fish.
Add fish only when the congee has reached a creamy consistency as fish cooks quickly. Stir in and turn off the heat immediately.
Some people prefer to serve the hot congee with sliced fish on a side plate. This allows one to stir the fish into the hot congee as the heat is sufficient to cook the fish, thus preventing over cooking the fish.


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