Monday, 9 January 2012

Congee [稀饭]

Hey guys! Since one of my New Year's resolutions was to learn how to make ten new dishes, I decided to get on it this weekend and learn how to make congee! :D

Song of the day: Gaseumi Eotteokeh Dwaennabwa by A & T it's a bit of a cop out as it's one of the easiest things out there to cook, but I was genuinely curious about this dish after eating it at a restaurant and being told by my friend that whilst it was a good dish, it wasn't worth the price. Why? I asked, and was told by her that congee is essentially made from leftovers and is so easy to make that even a beginner can't go wrong! Anyway, as there are so many different variations on the basic recipe then I'm still gonna count this as one of the big ten hehe!

The seaweed and sesame Korean variation, as made by SJ!

I grew up knowing congee as xi fan, a rice porridge dish that my parents would feed me when I was ill, or something that family friends would serve after a main meal that was gentle on the stomach to digest. Widespread all over Asia, it has a reputation for being a therapeutic and calming dish, a comfort food of sorts!

Historically, congee is a traditional Chinese dish that has been in Chinese culture for thousands of years. Originally a poor man's dish, or served in times of famine, 'legend has it that during the rule of Emperor Yong Zheng of the Qing dynasty, a famine broke out. He ordered his officials to make congee and distribute it to the starving people. Corrupt officials would skimp out on the rice and distribute very watery versions. When the Emperor heard about this, he set a standard that the porridge must be so thick that when a pair of chopsticks were inserted, they stay upright. Any officials who failed this standard were beheaded!'

So in essence, congee is rice that is cooked in lots of water over a long period of time. This allows the rice to disintegrate into a soft porridge and the starch that is released thickens the water. Seasonings then depend on culture, region and personal taste!

Some flavours that I have come across so far:

♥ Plain with salt
♥ Sliced shiitake, chicken, chicken stock
♥ Salted egg, ginger, spring onion, ginger
♥ Seaweed slices, sesame oil, sesame seeds
♥ Red beans, ginger for a dessert
♥ ...what else will I add here? ^^

I hope this post has inspired you to take a look at a familiar dish through new eyes, or to try something new if you haven't been introduced to this wonderful and versatile yumminess! :)

For more information, see: here, here and here!

All my love,

Yishi xxx

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