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joiep1's picture

RICE CONGEE (post #26023)

Have you ever had a craving for something that you've never actually tasted or eaten before?  I guess they say your body craves what it needs.  For years, now, I've had this craving, especially when it's cold and I'm not feeling well or feel like I could be getting sick.  The craving is for a rich, Asian flavored broth, maybe with ginger, garlic, green onions and something of substance in it...seafood, pork, chicken, noodles, rice, tofu and with some "heat" to it from chiles or pepper.  Hot and Sour Soup is good but doesn't quite feed the craving.  I've played around with various noodle soups and a variety of condiments to spice it up..."close but no cigar".  OH, and the famous China Moon Infusion...a lot of work and expense but not even close.

I've seen lots of recipes for CONGEE, which is kind of a rice porridge that is  mixed with a rich broth, served with an array of condiments, and is actually a breakfast dish in many Asian cultures.  (Please chime in here, Samchang.)  I know I've seen Chinese versions, Thai versions and I think Vietnamese versions of this recipe.  All of them made me drool with anticipation.

Finally, I've had a chance to try a Thai version of Rice Congee and it's pretty darn close to that elusive craving that I've been having.  The recipe is from Khasma, of course, very simple and it is devine.  Very rich because it is based on Pork. 

I'll follow with a recipe later in the week.  For now let me know if you have a  favorite CONGEE recipe or if you have a craving for that "elusive" recipe. 


3chang's picture

(post #26023, reply #1 of 11)

Hey, joiep! Good to hear from you again. Congee (or jook in Cantonese) really is one of those things that hits all the comfort levels, and we often make it because it is a good way to use up leftover rice. There are, after all, only so many fried rice dishes that you can pull out per week, and congee is even easier to make: just dump some cooked rice in some stock (about 1 part rice to 3 parts liquid), and simmer away. Actually we don't really simmer on the stove top. We have one of those super-insulated pots (called, for some reason, a 'vacuum pot'), but a crock pot will do nicely, too, I imagine. The stock is usually superior or a seafood-y chicken stock, but tens of millions in China use plain old water, although this is too spartan for me.  You can add a huge array of things into it. My favorite these days is a hint of black vinegar and sesame oil and a splash of black bean chili oil. In Cantonese restaurants, the classic is 1,000 year old eggs and salted pork. In Taiwan they make it with a milk fish broth, and in Shanghai they have it with those deep fried dough sticks (and what is basically rice porridge with doughnuts dunked in it is so much better tasting than it sounds!).

As you mentioned, just about all Asian cultures have their own recipes. Thais get to use 'broken rice' for an even smoother consistency, and out of sheer dumb luck, I've found out that a Vietnamese chicken based pho made with fresh rice noodles that have been allowed to soak overnight and get mushy will get you, happily enough, very similar results.

RheaS's picture

(post #26023, reply #2 of 11)

My mom always made our family the Filipino version whenever we were sick. It's not as exciting as the Thai version since it's not as spicy; however, it's definitely comfort food. Good broth, rice, chicken and very tender tripe with a touch of saffron. You then top with chopped scallions, slivered ginger, fried garlic, fish sauce and lemon juice to taste. With the lemon juice, it tastes quite similar to the greek Avgolemono (sp?).

Samchang: which brand of insulated pot do you have? I assume it's one you would recommend? I've been thinking of buying one for a year now, but it feels like such a splurge for me, but broths and soups made in them seem to have more flavour. I was also thinking that it's a good electricity or gas saver.

CookiM0nster's picture

(post #26023, reply #3 of 11)

Too funny. I don't know congee, but whenever I'm sick or getting sick I always crave extra spicy tom ka gai.

Wolvie's picture

(post #26023, reply #6 of 11)

I'm with you - my idea of a perfect food!

BTW, CM - I just got to open eudoramail today. The 26th. It hasn't worked for me in a week or so. Just letting you know!

Woe to the cook whose sauce has no sting
- Chaucer



Edited 3/26/2002 6:13:34 AM ET by Wolvie

Edited 3/26/2002 6:14:09 AM ET by Wolvie


kai230's picture

(post #26023, reply #7 of 11)

Great ideas, many of which I've never tried. Thanks!

Candygirl2's picture

(post #26023, reply #8 of 11)

Hey Rhea,

That's what we call Chicken Arroz Caldo.  The one with tripe mixed in is usually called Goto.  We usually have it for breakfast or merienda (snack).  

a.k.a. Candygirl :-)

RheaS's picture

(post #26023, reply #9 of 11)

Yup... I still make it for myself for breakfast sometimes when I'm not feeling well. I can never make it pure white (when not using saffron -- kasubha? I don't know how to spell it in Tagalog) like one of my ninangs.

3chang's picture

(post #26023, reply #4 of 11)

RheaS, we have the Zojirushi, and it is kind of a splurge at about $100 for what is nothing more than a heavy gauge pot that fits in an insulating sleeve. But the thing is great. Just let everything come to a boil for 5 minutes, put the hot pot in the insulating container, close the outer lid and let the pot do its thing overnight or throughout the day while you're gone. No wasted electricity or gas, as you say, and since the stuff inside gets boiled hard, no fears of funky bacterial growth as with incautious usage of crock pots.

RheaS's picture

(post #26023, reply #5 of 11)

Thanks for the info, I'll look for that brand (they make the cutest rice cookers). That's cheaper than the ones I've seen online (Nissen and some other brand). Those are closer to $200 last I checked.

joiep1's picture

(post #26023, reply #11 of 11)

Hi Samchang,

"Jook"...thanks for reminding me what the Cantonese version is called.  Now I'm on the search for all of those other recipes that I've passed on all of these years.  Just as I've imagined, it is the ultimate comfort food.  Revitalizing and, OH, so good! 

joiep1's picture

(post #26023, reply #10 of 11)

Wasn't sure if I could back to this discussion.  Here's the recipe for the Rice Congee that I made.


Soup Stock:

1+ lb. pork bones

2 quarts of water

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

1/4 c. cilantro roots (sub cilantro stems bruised with the side of a cleaver)

Place soup stock ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  Remove bones, skim fat.

Pork Mixture:

2/3 lb. ground pork

1/2 tsp. white pepper

2 T. minced cilantro roots (sub cilantro stems)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. fish sauce

Combine the ground pork with the rest of the ingredients, mix well and set aside.

Other ingredients:

1 C uncooked white rice (I used a med.grain)

3 C water

Rinse the rice a few times.  Place in a pot, add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer partially covered, skimming off any foam that forms over the water.  Cook until rice has softened and the grains have started to fall apart.

2 T light soy sauce

2 T fish sauce, or to taste

3/4 C finely slivered fresh ginger

1/3 C peanut oil

8 cloves garlic, chopped

4 green onions, cut into thin rounds

liberal sprinkling of freshly ground white pepper

fresh cilantro sprigs to garnish soup

In a small skillet, fry 1/2 cup of the slivered ginger in hot oil over medium heat until browned and crisped.  Drain with a fine wire mesh skimmer.  Return oil to skillet and fry the chopped garlic in it.  When golden brown, remove from heat , leaving the garlic pieces in the oil.

When the stock is ready, drop the flavored pork mixture by the teaspoonful into the soup.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Season to taste with light soy sauce and fish sauce.  Just before serving mix the rice porridge with the pork balls and broth.  Heat together for a few minutes.  Stir in the remaining fresh slivered ginger and the green onions.  Dish into individual serving bowls and top with a dash (or more) of ground white pepper, some garlic oil and toasted garlic pieces, some fried ginger and cilantro sprigs.

Joie's Notes:  This was really wonderful and very close to my "elusive craving".  Even tho it says to mix the rice and broth just before serving, I have to say this tasted even better, reheated the next day.  It was unusually "tame" for a Thai dish.  Don't forget the ground white pepper.  It adds some heat to the Congee.  I would add a freshly ground chile/garlic/vinegar sauce to the condiments, next time.  There are an array of condiments that you can add to this dish...from Victor Sodsook's True Thai , he recommends "Sweet Shrimp", "Hot and Sour Salty Egg Salad", "Sweet Salted Lettuce with Scrambled Eggs" and "Dried Shrimp Stir-Fry".

This recipe is from Khasma's website:  With every recipe on her site she offers a lengthy history of the dish.