04 February 2015

Notes on my congee experiment

I posted to Facebook that I was trying to cook congee for the first time, and a pal from my parenting group wanted a recipe. Well, this was my first time making it and I consulted about 10 different recipes before striking out on my own with my congee experiment. It was a hit with my family, so I am sharing notes on what I did.

The first thing you should know is that congee, or rice porridge, takes a lot more liquid than your average 2-to-1 ratio for making fluffy white rice.  This is what I used for today's dinner:

--8 cups of chicken broth
--3/4 cup of white rice

Let's start with the liquid. You can use water if you want to make a plain congee that will be used as a palette for other strong flavors. I used chicken broth made with bouillon because I knew I was adding chicken later.

As for the rice, many recipes call for jasmine rice. I personally don't like jasmine rice. The one time I've had it, I couldn't handle the perfume-y taste. I used white rice. I don't know if it was medium-grain or long-grain rice -- we buy whatever the basic inexpensive white rice is at the grocery store and dump it into our rice container as soon as we get it home.

Another thing that differed among the recipes is whether to wash the rice. Many recipes didn't mention washing the rice, but the ones that did mention washing the rice emphasized it strongly. As far as I could tell, the bloggers who said to wash the rice were Asian so I figured that was more authentic advice. Some said wash it twice and others said wash repeatedly until the water is clear. I split the difference and washed my rice three times.

Anyway, let's get to cooking! I put the rice, the broth, and four dime-size slices of ginger in my slow cooker and put in on high. This was a big mistake because it ended up boil over twice. Next time I would start earlier and put it on low.

At the same time, I put three chicken thighs and three drumsticks in my other slow cooker with water and a garlic/black pepper spice blend. They were frozen because I didn't think ahead, but they still cooked in time. I am saving the leftover water for another soup. I hesitate to call it "stock" because it tastes like greasy water to me, just like every other time I've tried to make stock. Maybe it will taste better when I use it for the next soup and fancy it up with more seasoning and some onions and carrots.

After about six hours, the congee was the consistency of thin oatmeal. I was supposed to pull the ginger out at this point, but I couldn't find it. Hopefully no one bites down on it and gets a shock! I added the shredded chicken and a can of no-salt-added corn. Scoop it into your bowl and add a little soy, sesame oil, or fish sauce.  Most recipes call for adding chopped green onions which I'm sure I would have enjoyed, but I didn't have any on hand.

As I said, we all enjoyed the end result. Even ABM ate it, which is unusual because he has pretty much been preparing his own food since getting his lap band several years ago. I would definitely do this again because it isn't that much work, and it is definitely going in the book of staple recipes for the kids.

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