A simple congee recipe that’s adaptable for any night



Energetic time:5 minutes

Whole time:1 hour


Energetic time:5 minutes

Whole time:1 hour


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Pierced by winding rivers and dotted with ponds and lakes, the Jiangnan area in China’s decrease Yangtze space is famously the house of Shanghai, the nation’s greatest metropolis. However Jiangnan is simply as well-known for its verdant land and fruitful waters.

“The primary time I heard Jiangnan known as yu mi zhi xiang — the ‘Land of Fish and Rice’ — was as my household and I sped alongside a small highway by Taihu, ‘Lake Tai,’ with a gorgeous golden discipline of rice swaying gently with the breeze on one facet,” writes Betty Liu in her beautiful cookbook, “My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories From a City on the Water.”

Among the many many recipes within the ebook, virtually half function rice in some type. There are pumpkin rice truffles with purple bean paste, rice-encrusted pork ribs steamed in lotus leaves, sticky rice rolls stuffed with black sesame seeds, and plenty of others. However one of many easiest rice recipes is for zhōu or xī fàn — usually referred to as by its Anglicized title, congee.

A easy rice porridge, in its most simple iteration, it’s a mixture of rice and water in a ratio of about 1 half rice and anyplace from 6 to 12 elements water. The rice is boiled and simmered till the grains launch all of their starch, thickening the water as they crumble.

Generally known as juk or jook in Korea, bubur in Indonesia, lugaw within the Philippines, teochew in Singapore and dozens of different names all over the world, there are additionally an infinite number of methods to make it. “You may make it with plain water or any form of inventory … you may range its taste with spices, dried roots, different grains, greens,” Liu tells me by cellphone from Boston, the place she’s finishing a surgical residency. Congee may be eaten plain, nevertheless it’s virtually at all times topped with a number of savory tidbits earlier than serving.

Her congee recipe is supposed to be a base that house cooks can mess around with, including or subtracting liquid to realize their superb texture, augmenting with different grains or greens for taste, and eventually topping with a wide range of proteins and pickled, preserved or recent greens.

In her ebook, Liu suggests topping your congee with pickled greens, a thousand-year egg, salted duck egg or chile-fermented tofu. However the prospects are limitless. “After I was a child, we might every have our bowl of congee, after which just a little dish of fermented bean curd. We’d take a spoonful of congee after which use our chopsticks to select off a few of the fermented bean curd,” Liu says. At this time, she loves it with a drizzle of soy sauce and pickled mustard greens or kimchi.

“However you need to use no matter you want or have readily available. Leftover duck or leftover Thanksgiving turkey are at all times good in cooler months,” Liu says, additionally noting that you could possibly rehydrate dried mushrooms, use that liquid to prepare dinner the congee, and saute the mushrooms to serve on high.

For a springtime congee, she suggests sauteed or pickled inexperienced garlic or ramps — blitzed right into a pesto or blistered in a sizzling pan — recent peas, herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Italian basil pesto is an easy, versatile summer sauce

In the summertime, corn is good on congee, both merely steamed kernels or a puree of recent corn, swirled into every bowl. Quartered cherry tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs? Fried eggplant and zucchini? Tiny, just-cooked shrimp? Sure, sure and sure.

“Rising up, congee was by no means served the identical approach,” Liu says. “One message I wish to get throughout is that I believe some individuals assume Chinese language meals is intimidating. However like several house cooking, there are not any actual guidelines with congee. It’s your kitchen, it’s your guidelines!”

  • As a substitute of rice >> do this with one other grain, equivalent to farro or buckwheat.
  • To make your congee extra flavorful, instead of water >> use any form of inventory or broth.

To make this recipe sooner, plan forward: Rinse the rice briefly in cool water, drain it after which freeze in a resealable bag. As soon as frozen, the water coating the grains will assist them break down extra shortly. Boil the frozen rice for simply 20 minutes, as an alternative of the total hour, to realize the identical porridge-like texture.

Storage: Leftover congee could also be refrigerated for as much as 1 week.

The place to seek out: Dried lily bulbs, dried mung beans, pickled mustard greens, thousand-year eggs and chile-fermented tofu may be discovered at Asian markets or on-line.

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  • 8 cups water, hen inventory, mushroom inventory or vegetable inventory, plus extra as wanted
  • 3/4 cup short- or medium-grain white rice

For the non-compulsory additions

  • 1 dried lily bulb
  • 2 tablespoons dried mung beans, soaked in water in a single day

For the steered non-compulsory toppings

  • Pickled mustard greens or different pickles
  • Thousand-year egg or different hard-boiled egg
  • Chile-fermented or different tofu
  • Soy sauce
  • Scallions

In a big pot over excessive warmth, convey the water or inventory to a boil. Add the rice, in addition to both or each of the non-compulsory additions, and convey again to a boil.

Scale back the warmth to low, cowl and simmer, stirring periodically to forestall the rice from sticking, till the rice grains have “blossomed,” or opened up and began to separate, and the congee has a thick, porridge-like consistency, about 45 minutes. Add extra broth or water, if you would like a looser congee. If you’d like it thicker, uncover and prepare dinner longer.

Serve along with your selection of toppings, stirred into the congee to taste it, or added on high, to be eaten between spoonfuls of porridge.

Per serving (1 1/2 cups congee; excluding toppings)

Energy: 128; Whole Fats: 0 g; Saturated Fats: 0 g; Ldl cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 2 mg; Carbohydrates: 28 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 0 g; Protein: 2 g.

This evaluation is an estimate primarily based on accessible components and this preparation. It mustn’t substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s recommendation.

Tailored from “My Shanghai” by Betty Liu (Harper Design, 2021).

Examined by G. Daniela Galarza; electronic mail inquiries to voraciously@washpost.com.

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Atone for this week’s Eat Voraciously recipes:

Monday: Polenta With Balsamic Scallion Greens

Tuesday: Herb-Marinated Tofu Feta

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