Whether it’s a winter, springtime or summer congee, G Daniela Galarza has plenty of suggestions
Pierced by winding rivers and dotted with ponds and lakes, the Jiangnan region in China’s lower Yangtze area is famously the home of Shanghai, the country’s biggest city. But Jiangnan is just as well-known for its verdant land and fruitful waters.
“The first time I heard Jiangnan referred to as yu mi zhi xiang – the ‘Land of Fish and Rice’ – was as my family and I sped along a small road by Taihu, ‘Lake Tai’, with a beautiful golden field of rice swaying gently with the breeze on one side,” writes Betty Liu in her gorgeous cookbook, My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories From a City on the Water.
Among the many レシピ 本の中で, almost half feature rice in some form. There are pumpkin rice cakes with red bean paste, rice-encrusted pork ribs steamed in lotus leaves, sticky rice rolls filled with black sesame seeds, と他の多く. But one of the simplest rice recipes is for zhōu or xī fàn – often called by its Anglicised name, congee.
A simple rice porridge, in its most basic iteration, it’s a combination of rice and water in a ratio of about 1 part rice and anywhere from 6 に 12 parts water. The rice is boiled and simmered until the grains release all of their starch, thickening the water as they fall apart.
Known as juk or jook in Korea, bubur in Indonesia, lugaw in the Philippines, teochew in Singapore and dozens of other names around the world, there are also an endless variety of ways to make it. “You can make it with plain water or any kind of stock … you can vary its flavour with spices, dried roots, other grains, 野菜,” Liu tells me by phone from Boston, where she’s completing a surgical residency. Congee can be eaten plain, but it’s almost always topped with a few savoury tidbits before serving.
Her congee recipe is meant to be a base that home cooks can play around with, adding or subtracting liquid to achieve their ideal texture, augmenting with other grains or vegetables for flavour, and finally topping with a variety of proteins and pickled, preserved or fresh vegetables.
彼女の本の中で, Liu suggests topping your congee with pickled vegetables, a thousand-year egg, salted duck egg or chilli-fermented tofu. But the possibilities are unlimited. “When I was a kid, we would each have our bowl of congee, and then a little dish of fermented bean curd. We’d take a spoonful of congee and then use our chopsticks to pick off some of the fermented bean curd,” Liu says. 今日, she loves it with a drizzle of soy sauce and pickled mustard greens or kimchi.
“But you can use whatever you like or have on hand. Leftover duck or leftover Thanksgiving turkey are always good in cooler months,” Liu says, also noting that you could rehydrate dried mushrooms, use that liquid to cook the congee, and saute the mushrooms to serve on top.
For a springtime congee, she suggests sauteed or pickled green garlic or wild garlic – blitzed into a pesto or blistered in a hot pan – fresh peas, herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice.
夏に, corn is ideal on congee, either simply steamed kernels or a puree of fresh corn, swirled into each bowl. Quartered cherry tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs? Fried aubergine and courgette? Tiny, just-cooked prawns? はい, yes and yes.
"育つ, congee was never served the same way,” Liu says. “One message I want to get across is that I think some people think Chinese food is intimidating. But like any home cooking, there are no real rules with congee. It’s your kitchen, it’s your rules!」
Congee, also known as jūk, jook, báizhōu, xifan, okayu, babor and other names around the world, is the simplest of rice porridges, and an incredibly easy and comforting base to a variety of meals. Traditionally served for breakfast in China, think of this recipe, adapted from author Betty Liu’s My Shanghai, as a guide. Use more or less broth or water for a looser or denser porridge, add flavourings directly in with the rice or stir them in after it’s done cooking. Then top the porridge with whatever you have on hand: pickled mustard greens, kimchi or other vegetables; hard-boiled or preserved eggs; chilli-marinated tofu or prawns; green garlic pesto; sauteed mushrooms; poached chicken or leftover turkey. To make this recipe faster, plan ahead: rinse the rice briefly in cool water, drain it and then freeze in a resealable bag. Once frozen, the water coating the grains will help them break down more quickly. Boil the frozen rice for just 20 分, instead of the full hour, to achieve the same porridge-like texture.
Storage notes: Leftover congee may be refrigerated for up to 1 週間.
Where to buy: Dried lily bulbs, dried mung beans, pickled mustard greens, thousand-year eggs and chilli-fermented tofu can be found at Asian markets or online.
活動時間: 5 分; 合計時間: 1 時間
1.9L water, chicken stock, mushroom stock or vegetable stock, plus more as needed
96g short or medium-grain white rice
1 dried lily bulb
2 tbsp dried mung beans, soaked in water overnight
Suggested optional toppings:
Pickled mustard greens or other pickles
Thousand-year egg or other hard-boiled egg
Chilli-fermented or other tofu
In a large pot over high heat, bring the water or stock to a boil. Add the rice, as well as either or both of the optional additions, and bring back to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring periodically to prevent the rice from sticking, until the rice grains have “blossomed”, or opened up and started to split, and the congee has a thick, porridge-like consistency, 約 45 分. Add more broth or water, if you want a looser congee. If you want it thicker, uncover and cook longer.
Serve with your choice of toppings, stirred into the congee to flavour it, or added on top, to be eaten between spoonfuls of porridge.
Nutrition: Per serving (192g congee; excluding toppings) | Calories: 128; total fat: 0g; saturated fat: 0g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 2mg; carbohydrates: 28g; dietary fibre: 1g; sugars: 0g; protein: 2g.
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.