Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Savory congee, one pot rice porridge

A complete meal out from a pot!

Savory porridge
-1/2lbs minced pork or lean pork strips
-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
-1tsp dried shrimps, pre-soak in water for 5mins to soften
-2 dried scallops, pre-soak in water for 5mins to soften
-2 large dried shitake mushrooms, pre-soak in water to soften, then squeezed to remove water, and sliced to thin slices
-4 cuttlefish balls, sliced then cut into thin strips (can replace with fish ball/fish cake)
-1 cup rice
-water accordingly
-salt and pepper to taste
-celery tips, or leaves, diced into very fine bits- garnish

1. In a stock pot, add in 1tbsp oil and at low-medium heat, fry the pork, garlic, dried shrimps, dried scallops, dried mushrooms, cuttlefish slices
2. When fragrant, add in the washed rice so that the rice grains gets imparted with the flavor of the ingredients through the oil and heat
3. Add in water and let the rice grains to slowly cook(simmer) to congee/porridge, stirring it at intervals (Note: it depends how you like your porridge - if you like it thicker and viscous, you do not have to add so much water or otherwise). This will take 15mins or more.
4. Season with salt and white pepper to taste

Through the slow cooking of rice grains in the pot with all the ingredients right from the start, PLUS the stirring of the rice mixture at intervals during simmering, these rice grains have broken up so much and the porridge/congee is so smooth to down. While I know that some congee like this has been cooked so smooth (cannot even see whole grains anymore!) by using a mixture of rice grains (broken grains, pearl grains etc.), the constant stirring method works well for me too. My, do you think I have cooked my porridge/congee smooth, or needs more improvement? :P

One spoonful loaded with pork, mushroom, dried scallops

The technique used in this Savory Congee, or 咸粥 ~ Xian Zhou is new to me especially when cooking porridge/congee is concerned. Usually, I would start cooking porridge by boiling rice grains in water, then add in the ingredients. But this time, I pre-fried the ingredients to expel the aroma and flavor (爆香), then also add in rice grains to mix with these pre-fried ingredients so that the final taste of the porridge/congee is unified, in terms of depths of aroma and savory flavors.


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