Congee is a rice porridge; jasmine rice is cooked in either water or stock to make a soup. Different South East Asian countries have different methods of cooking it; some leave the rice grains whole to make a thin soup, others, like in the Cantonese style, a thick sludge. My dad calls it wallpaper paste. Eaten mostly at breakfast, various toppings are added - fish, salted or preserved egg, sliced pork, liver, that kind of thing.
After a slap-up suckling pig feast at Chinese New Year, I was rather lucky to have walked off with all the scraps and the bones. This all went into a huge stock pot and simmered merrily away for a few hours, before it was strained and then heavily reduced to go into the freezer. I kept slurping away as it was being made, and it was utterly fantastic. I had no idea what I was going to do with it.
A few months later, a toothache rendered me useless and pitiful, and as I paced around my flat starving and in pain, I remembered the pork stock in the freezer. The congee would be the perfect vehicle to show off that lovely porky goodness. It's comfort food too - my grandmother used to make me congee whenever I was unwell, throwing in a few dried scallops for flavour. It's easy to eat, making it ideal for delicate bellies. Happily I'd brought some dried scallops back from Hong Kong; hugely expensive in the UK, they also got thrown in. This became my ultimate congee. Silky smooth, with a few rice grains intact, the porky stock was perfectly seasoned, nuggets of scallop a rich reward every few mouthfuls.
I guess I'll have to have a few more suckling pigs to replicate this...
I don't expect it would be easy to make this recipe, but some roasted pork bones, a star anise and charred onions might make a good substitute.
Pork & Dried Scallop Congee
500ml really, really good pork stock
4 dried scallops
50gr jasmine rice
1 spring onion
Soak the scallops in some hot water. Put the stock on to simmer and add the rice into it. Simmer slowly for at least an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Add the scallops to the rice and then simmer for anout half an hour. Add more stock if it's looking too thick or dry. To serve, top with slivered greens of the spring onion and add soy sauce to taste.