Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rice Congee: Nourishment from the Motherland

Chinese Congee, aka, ‘jook’ is an Asian cure-all rice soup. Many countries in the Asian region have a history of the soup with many ingredient variations. From China, it was thought to be served during times of famine. For me it’s a nostalgic, penny pinching breakfast, lunch and dinner that I LOVE. My dad always used to make this soup as I was growing up, especially when I was sick. Nostalgic food has a really funny way of comforting you when you need it to. 

The idea is to cook the rice in a heavy weight of water or stock until it breaks up and forms a porridge-like consistency. Jook is served with a deep fried bread stick in many places too. I went to Chinatown yesterday and found a store that sold fresh bread sticks, so I made a huge batch today. 

Serves four
9 cups chicken stock
1.5 cups white jasmine rice
2 scallions/shallots
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt and white pepper to taste
Soy sauce to taste

Dice garlic, ginger and scallions (leaving ½ scallion for garnish). In a saucepan, quickly heat ingredients in sesame oil and follow with stock (brings out the flavors in hot oil). Wash rice before adding to stock to remove all starch. Once everything has been combined, heat to the boil then reduce and let simmer for two hours. The rice should start to break apart and a thick consistency will start to form. 

The beauty of this soup is that you can add whatever you want, depending on your taste; chicken, duck, century eggs, fish, vegetables or tofu. Depending on what you make the soup with, it can be well nourishing.

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