Friday, December 17, 2010

Sweet Potato Congee (Rice Porridge) by Michele

Congee (or jook in Cantonese) is a Chinese style rice porridge, which is made by cooking down rice in a copious amount of water. Depending on the amount of water you use, the consistency can range from a nice starchy soup to a tender risotto. Recipes for congees vary a great deal as well. Growing up, I enjoyed my grandma's jook, which consisted of ham, salt and soy sauce. Another popular version, which I have also tried, contains crab meat. But no matter what you put in it, congee is a great hardy all-in-one meal.

Lately, I have been doing a lot of experimenting with my congee. In a lot of ways it is a lot like risotto in the fact that it is a starchy base that goes great with a number of added goodies. In this particular recipe I used sweet potatoes, and garnished it with a simple fresh cucumber pickle.

Sweet Potato Congee

1-2 cups rice (short white grains)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cubed sweet potato
1/4 of a white onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 inch of garlic minced
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in the bottom of a deep skillet. Toss in the ginger, garlic, and onion. Once the onion is translucent, add the sweet potatoe and rice. Allow the oil to soak into rice for about a minute while you stir the contents. Add the chicken broth, plus enough water to cover the rice. Bring everything to a boil, while ocassionally stirring. Continue adding water until the rice begins to break down, and you reach your prefered consistancy. I like it to be slightly wetter than risotto. To finish it off, I add salt and pepper to taste.

While the congee is cooking, I like to figure out my toppings. I usually top my congee with an over-easy egg. Despite the fact that it is a total diet killer, it is just too darn good not to do it.

Another must-have congee topper is soy sauce. Right now in my kitchen I have this Double Black Soy Sauce from Koon Chun. It can been found in any well stocked Asian market. It actually has molasses as an ingredient. It pairs perfectly with this congee.

Lastly, I like to have chilled and freshly pickled cucumbers on my congee. The coolness of the pickle with the warmth of the congee make the flavors melt in your mouth.

Fresh Picked Cucumbers

sliced cucumbers
a splash of rice vinegar
a drizzle of sesame seed oil

I toss the cucumbers with the vinegar and oil, and then stick it in the refrigerator until I am ready for it. The longer the mixture sits, the more infused the cucumbers get.


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