Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jade: Bitemycongee

I never used to like rice, growing up. The prospect of having cheesy omelettes, a nice creamy chicken casserole or my favourite- char bee hoon was just a lot more exciting. My first stop the second I got home from school was always the kitchen, where I would take a tentative peek and a hopeful sniff at whatever my mum was making...praying it wouldn't be rice..and then being sorely disappointed when it was. In hindsight it was rice about 95% of the time..17 years and still absolutely oblivious to a pattern that was only too obvious. I call it optimism and sheer obstinance on my part..although some would argue there is a fine line between optimism and stupidity:P

Since leaving home though, I have actually grown to love rice...perhaps it's my way of pretending I'm still at home, to have a routine that is similar to what I'm used to. Or perhaps my palate is now refined enough to appreciate the floral fragrance from a good pack of thai jasmine rice...either way, I now eat rice on a daily basis. By choice;) and when I'm lazy to chew...because I'm allowed to be shamelessly lazy once in a while, there's always silky smooth congee to give me the heartiness of rice with the added comfort of hot broth.

Scallop congee [ courtesy of 2 very cool adults, thanks to whom I'm now a congee convert ;) ]

1/4 cup short grain rice
1-2tbsp spring onion oil
[ I've done a post on onion oil before I think, but if that's just my imagination talking, simply fry some spring onions, sliced onions, and some garlic and ginger if you so wish in about half a cup of oil. Fry on low heat till onions turn golden and crispy, drain and reserve the oil for precisely this purpose]

300ml water
300ml chicken stock [ if you wish to take a chicken apart and boil it for hours be my guest, my stock came out of a can]
Small handful of dried scallops
Small handful goji berries because they look so pretty

1. Wash rice until water runs clear..or nearly one's going to check. Drain, and marinate with spring onion oil overnight. This way the rice grains soak up all the gorgeous flavours of the oil and they soften up as well, which means they break up easier.

2. Heat up the water and stock, chuck in the scallops, goji berries and marinated rice, and bring to the boil.

3. Now lower the heat so the brothy mixture comes down to a gentle simmer, and stir. For 45 minutes. wahaha, no, I'm dead serious. It helps break up the grains so you end up with a really smooth congee. You could use a slow cooker, or a pressure cooker and leave it overnight, but I quite enjoy stirring.

4. Once your congee starts to take on a very creamy appearance, season to taste, ladle into a large bowl and enjoy:) I honestly think it doesn't need much seasoning as the scallops and stock are quite robust in flavour, but I'll let you be the judge of that. And as any chinese person will tell you, congee isn't congee without a nice big helping of crunchy preserved choi sum ;)

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