Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Ultimate Congee

To date, this may well be the ultimate congee (or 'juk' in Cantonese) that I've ever made.

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

Serves 2

500ml really, really good pork stock
4 dried scallops
50gr jasmine rice
1 spring onion
Soy sauce

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.

16 comments:

Mr Noodles said...

I love juk. I don't like mine too sludgy but also not too runny either. As well as topping with spring onion, I like adding some slivers of ginger too.

An American in London said...

Sorry to hear about the toothache, but glad your treatment regime included excellent congee. I often have leftover rice in the fridge, so while I can't say I make this ultimate congee, ever, I do make congee pretty regularly. It's just so fast, easy and yum.

Tom said...

Oh yes... http://www.flickr.com/photos/walsh02/4732742680/

Greedy Diva said...

Gorgeous post. I love congee - although once saw it advertised in Kuala Lumpur as "frog porridge" which was not so appetising.

A BRIT GREEK said...

Love Juk! They always feed you this when you're poorly... great post.

I do love salted preserved egg juk though. Oh and you cannot forget the fried bread like sticks - i can't believe i've forgotten what they're called!!!

x.o.x.o

Winnie said...

I love congee too and I guess we all have different recipes! I like it quite plain with minced pork but my dad also introduced me to putting shredded lettuce in it which was amazing! But when I go out for yum cha I think my favourite is teng jey chuk. Yummm.

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

well, call me an ignorant fool but i've never heard of congee but it looks really good... i'm actually salivating at the thought of the flavour... but then I am stuck on a very dull, flavour-free train from Skegness to London... I wonder where I can try try some congee in the big smoke?

fattastic said...

Congee always reminds me of my mum's home cooked one...

Great post, love hearing about your food adventures!

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

The colour of your congee is intense from the stock! I bet it must've tasted divine!
One of our family favourites is the Boxing Day Juk - Turkey Congee! It's great and even better if Mum makes some Yau Jah Gwi! Sluuurp!

Lizzie said...

Mr Noodles - I love a bit of ginger in congee, especially fish ones.

AAIL - It is recovering, thank god. I've never made congee from leftover cooked rice, I'll have to give it a go.

Tom - lovely stuff.

Greedy Diva - Blimey - was there actually frog in it?!

A Brit Greek - They are called yau tsa gwai - I love them too.

Winnie - Oooh shredded lettuce? That sounds very interesting.

Dom - Young Cheng on Shaftesbury Avenue does a good congee I reckon. None better than home-made though.

Fattastic - it's a very homely dish, isn't it? Thanks!

PlumLeaf - It was pretty awesome. Does your mum have a recipe for yau tsa gwai she could pass on?

ginandcrumpets said...

Ah, was talking about congee last night with friends. Of the 6 of us, 3 described it as "really terrible" (I was one of the those 3). Your congee looks very attractive, and reading about all the stock ingredients and the dried scallops makes it sound very tasty, but... I'm probably still going to run away in terror.

Sharmila said...

Oh bugger, why didn't I buy dried scallops when I was in HK a few weeks ago?! Bah.

Anyway, that looks fab. I love congee, juk, whatever.

An American in London said...

The beauty of using leftover cooked rice is that it takes no time at all to make congee!

Now that I think about it, I've never made congee from uncooked rice, so I wonder if there's a flavor difference. (I'd be surprised if there were).

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

Taste-wise cooked rice Vs uncooked not sure. There is a region in S.E. China (I don't know in english) that make juk from left-over rice. Yes it's quicker, I think you probably get more whole grains. I'm not sure you'll get the same texture or viscosity as when you use uncooked rice? May depend how long it's cooked for. Have heard that you can soak rice grains in plain water whilst simmering bones for stock so they will cook quicker when added to the stock.

Lizzie, will have to see if mum will enlighten me on yau tsa gwi making!

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

Ah, have found a recipe that uses the same 'odd' ingredients as mum does if she was to make Yau Tsa Gwai from scratch....
You will need ammonia powder and alum...

Here's a link to a blog where someone has made it recently...
http://www.mykitchensnippets.com/2010/07/chinese-crullersyau-char-kwai.html

Hope that helps!

Joshua said...

That is a tasty looking congee.

Malaysian frog porridge does have frog in it. It's good though.