I find it weird that I haven’t yet shared a congee recipe here. Weird not because we have it very often at home (the hubs deems it as sick people food) but weird because I crave for it almost everytime it rains or gets cooler in the night.
While it is sick people food in that it’s easy to ingest & digest, it is also a kind of comfort food for me. Noodles do it most time but there are moments when only congee or rice porridge can satisfy. Soft mushy bowl of peace. Because congee = peace to me. In my ideal world, congee is meant to be savoured slowly, deliberately, quietly, meaningfully, meditatively.
It’s strange that this humble food carries such meaning because in times past, congee was food for peasants. For the poor. People who had very little and could not afford to fill bowls to the brim with rice. Instead, they added water into the pot with the few grains of rice they had, increasing the volume and giving the impression that there was more.
There’s much to be thankful for, isn’t there? What was created as a measure of survival is now looked upon with nostalgia and comfort.
In those days, all they had to make it more palatable were probably a few pinches of salt & a dash of soy sauce. Today, we can make it our own by adding an infinite variety of meats, vegetables & seasonings.
Restaurants boast about their unique blend of 4-5 rice varieties to create the silkiest, softest congee ever known to man. And charge an unseemly amount for a little bowl.
I make it my own in a variety of ways. Sometimes I like it plain white. Other times I to spruce it up with a little something, like fish or pork.
But in the end, I still see congee as food from home. Food eaten on grandma’s dining table. Food for the sick. Food for dreary soul.
You can add as many toppings as you like into a bowl of congee. It’s still a humble homely dish.
A dish that, I reckon, should be given a silent but dignified tip of the hat or nod for its long eventful culinary history.
Do you feel the same about any particular comfort food? Let me know I’m not the only one. 🙂
“A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5)
- ½ cup uncooked Rice (I used 1 cup leftover cooked rice & ¼ cup uncooked rice)
- 5 cups Fish/Chicken Broth*
- 2 inch piece Salted Fish (may substitute with 2 tbsp Fish Sauce)
- 2 Salmon Steak
- 1 tbsp Salt
- ½ tsp ground Black Pepper
- (optional toppings) Century Egg, Salted Duck Egg, Fu Yee (white fermented beancurd), Kimchi
- Pour rice & broth into a pot together with salted fish (fish sauce if using).
- Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 40 minutes of until rice is soft enough to your liking. Make sure to stir every now and again, scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking and burning.
- Meanwhile, season salmon steak with salt & pepper.
- Fry salmon pieces in an oil-less nonstick frying pan, about 3 mins per side until fully cooked.
- Remove bones & flake or break to bite-size pieces.
- Once congee is done, scoop out into bowls & top with salmon flakes & preferred toppings.
- Serve hot.