Eating less carbs at home was my new year's resolution (as I eat enough carbs when I go out!). I haven't cooked rice or pasta at home since last year...until today. My excuse was that I was feeling unwell today and I needed congee (savoury rice porridge, usually served as comfort food, similar to chicken soup in western culture) to make me feel better. Once I had that in my head, no other dinner option would suffice.
Congee can be made in many different ways and with many different ingredients. My favourite kind is pork and century egg congee or seafood congee.
Century egg (or preserved egg) is definitely an acquired taste. I can't remember when I started liking it, but I absolutely love it now! I'm reminded of a scene from the movie American Hustle - the one where Jennifer Lawrence's character is obsessed with a particular topcoat of nail polish from Switzerland.
(Photo credit to this website)
She describes it as, "perfumey but there's also something rotten about it. I can't get enough of it." When I was watching that scene, I kept thinking I could relate that to certain foods. Stinky tofu and century egg immediately came to mind!
By chance, I had pork AND century egg on hand (I love it when that happens!) and decided to attempt to make my very first congee! And because it was my first attempt, I didn't bother to weigh any of my ingredients. I grabbed a handful and went "yeah, looks about right". Who knew it would turn out so well?! The main equipment that I used was my Tatung rice cooker, which only has two settings (Warm and Cook). The cooking time is dependent on how much water is in the external pot (not the internal pot). I'm sure this recipe could be adapted for a regular rice cooker, or even just a large saucepan!
Congee with pork and century egg
Cook time: 30 minutes Serves: 2
- 1 cup of medium grain rice
- Approx 2 tsp of chicken stock (I used Knorr brand)
- 1 century egg (or more, but I only had one)
- A handful of pork, chopped into very small pieces
- Chopped chives (or spring onions would be better, but I didn't have any)
- Fried onions, for garnish
- Cook the rice according to the instructions for your rice cooker, with two exceptions:
- Double the amount of water you would normally use.
- Mix the chicken stock powder in with the water (or use chicken stock liquid instead of plain water if that's what you're using).
- Once the rice cooker ticks off and is telling you the rice is done, add the chopped pork and about another cup of water into the rice. Stir it around. Add more water to the external pot and put the rice cooker on for another round.
- Once the second round is done, open the lid (away from you!) and add salt to taste. Then add the chopped century egg with some chives (or spring onion, if using) and mix together. If the consistency isn't how you like it (some people prefer rice that is more broken down), then you can go for a third round. I couldn't wait any longer so that's when I garnished with fried onion and served up!
It's honestly such a simple recipe (cook rice, chuck other ingredients in, continue cooking, voila!) with a great result - immediately making me feel much better (or is that the placebo effect?). Who cares, it works!
You could substitute the main ingredients I used for almost anything. Chicken, duck, seafood would all work well... In hindsight, a splash of sesame oil would have been delicious too.
What's your comfort food? Have you broken your new year's resolution because of your comfort food? Or do you have more willpower than me? :P