When you are feeling under the weather the best thing to have is something light. I remember being force fed congee when I was younger and hated it. Things have changed, I can now appreciate all the different types of congee there is and it is a sort of comfort food.
Congee is chinese rice porridge which is made by boiling rice in a lot of water for a while until it resembles a thick soup. This is usually a breakfast dish or sometimes for supper. The little shops in Hong Kong do this really well and you can usually find a couple of choices of congee on a dim sum menu. Some of the favourite flavours are raw fish congee, pork with salted ducks egg and thousand year old egg and dried oysters and dried scallops.
In London Chinatown, Dragon’s Inn used to have a massive cauldron of white congee bubbling away at the entrance next to their cheong fun steamer which was really popular for supper. Sadly, this place is gone and we have to look around for a good alternative. The Taiwanese serve congee plain, with a lot of little dishes of accompaniments like omelletes, crispy anchovies, fried fish, picked cabbage and stewed pork to name a few, not unlike the Teochew people.
On a friend’s suggestion, we ended up at Leong’s Legend. They had 2 flavours on the menu, Oyster Congee (made with dried oysters) or the Salty Pork and Black egg (Thousand Year old egg) congee (£4.20). We had the pork congee with an essential side order of fried dough sticks (£2.00).
The congee was nice and smooth with large chunks of the thousand year old egg and slithers of pork. Could have done with a bit of salted egg in there but not in this recipe. Disappointingly, the dough sticks were really soggy, like they were just microwaved, when they should have been crispy. For a quick meal, that hit the spot and at £6.20 was a real bargain.
Here’s a quick recipe if you want to try this at home.
150ml plain white rice, soaked in cold water for at least an hour or overnight
700ml liquid, water for the plain version or stock for a flavoured version
Add meat as required. Suggested flavours:
- Raw fish slices added at the end of into the hot congee with julienne of ginger
- Raw beef slice, as above
- Minced pork meatballs
- Pork ribs
- sliced spring onions
- garlic oil
- cripy fried dough cut into bite size pieces like croutons
Bring to boil and then turn down heat to let it simmer. Continue boiling until the rice becomes a creamy texture, usually about 30 – 40 minutes. Alternatively, the easy route is to use the porridge setting in your rice cooker or use a slow cooker and leave it in all day. Serve hot with some soya sauce on the side.