The rain started sometime after midnight and didn’t stop until sometime in the afternoon. The day was grey and dreary, but at least it wasn’t too cold. Still: dreary. It was a day which called for comfort food, so I decided to try my hand at making congee.
The most basic congee couldn’t be simpler to make: take some rice, add a bunch of water, simmer until you have mush. Voila! Congee! Perhaps not the tastiest thing but warming. Traditionally it’s a Chinese breakfast food but there’s no reason that—like bacon and coffee—you shouldn’t have it any ol’ time of day.
I wanted my congee to be a bit more three dimensional than just rice and water as well as being a bit more nutritious. A little web research showed that multi-grain congee was a real thing so that’s the route I opted to take. I also added some moth beans because I had them on hand. Lentils would work just as well. Really, the main factor of this recipe was “use what you have.” It worked out quite well.
This takes a while to make but if you’re just going to be around the house anyway… If you’d rather it were 100% unattended, various sites on the web suggest a slow cooker for making congee.
The recipe makes 4 large bowls of congee or 3 very large bowls of congee or 2 you’re-really-not-going-to-eat-all-that-are-you bowls of congee.
- 4-5 quart pot
- one Cornish game hen or a few chicken thighs/legs
- 1/3 cup brown rice
- 1/3 cup white rice
- 1/3 cup toasted kasha, barley or some other whole grain
- 1/3 cup moth beans or lentils
Things for garnish (soy sauce, scallions, etc.) </ul> Method
- Put the hen or chicken bits in the pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 90 minutes.
- Remove the fowl ingredient and set aside to cool. Congratulations, you just made chicken stock.
- Add the grains and beans to the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce to a very low simmer for about 1.5-2 hours. Stir occasionally to keep things from sticking. During this time the grains and beans will break down and become mushy and soupy.
- Once the hen/chicken has cooled, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones. Keep the meat for using to garnish the congee.
- When it reaches the consistency you want, ladle into bowls. Garnish with whatever you wish. The congee will be bland on its own so you’ll want to load this up with tasty things like chicken, soy sauce, onions, garlic, ginger, etc. This is pretty wide open. Use what you have and what you like.
Yeah, that’s it. Use whatever combination of grains and beans you have/want, just make sure the total amount used doesn’t exceed 1.5 cups or the congee will end up too thick. Unless you like that. To each their own.