Congee-food-for-the-soul

 

Congee soothes stomach upsets, helps maintain energy levels & provides the liver with ingredients for detoxification.

 

I actually found the Congee in a Chinese Liver Disease TCM booklet which was combined with Curcumin root and Citrus Medica (Buddha’s Hand) given to soothe the liver, release stagnation, regulate Qi and strengthen the spleen.

Want chicken soup for the soul? Give congee to your soul!

Congee is all about well-being and vitality. When eaten, it really feels like it heals all that is bad in the world. It is comfort food like being in bed on a miserable day with a warm, soft cosy blanket and your favourite TV show. Its like something you get from your grandmother or your mother.

 

Anyone at any level in the kitchen can achieve a congee. Everyone should learn about congee, cook it, enjoy it as often as possible and tell one and all how great it is.

 

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We always make too much rice, don’t waste it! Add a small bowl of left over rice, perhaps scraps from a roast, forage a fridge and use up any herbs and vegetables going to about 6 cups of chicken stock and you’ve got one quick, healthy and delicious meal under 15 mins.

 

Tip: Use your root teas such as Liver Nurse, Hemo Tea , Astragalus , Seaweed or Charaka seeds and roots into the bone broth while it is preparing, this adds an extra dimension of healing into the food.

Chicken-Congee

What is congee?

Light, delicate, easy to digest and soothing, congee is a rice based soup, similar to porridge or risotto. It is a favourite among many Asian countries ranging from Japan (okayu) to China (jook), Vietnam (cháo) to Myanmar (hsan byok), India (kanji) to Indonesia (bubur). Every country, region or person will make congee according to how they like it. There are no rules, it is hard to go wrong and you decide how simple or extravagant you want to go.

 

When is congee eaten?

>An exquisite congee, rich with fresh and vibrant flavours is great for breakfast or a late night supper. But when you’re feeling under the weather, a plain and simple congee is the thing most South East Asians will whip up without a doubt because its much better to endure something warm, gentle and merciful on the stomach.

 

The body needs to be recovering, not digesting. Congee helps with all the fortifying goodness of bone broths of chicken, beef or fish. Adding finely chopped ginger helps cleanse and aids digestion. Gifting someone a bowl of Congee is one of the best things you can do to help someone get better. In many countries, hospitals will serve patients congee, like your mother would.

 

Prawn_Congee

 

How to make congee

Simmer cooked rice in water or seasoned broth until the rice grains have expanded to your liking. It can be consumed thick or watery. Its up to you! To make a utterly delicious congee, it is important to use a good quality bone broth – using free range meat and bones from poultry, pork or good quality fresh fish and seafood. A good bone broth is the secret to an excellent congee.

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Congee is a soothing, nourishing food for anyone convalescing from gastric upsets or recovering from exhaustion, illness and even liver stress. This Chinese dish is traditionally made by gently simmering rice and water on the lowest possible heat for up to 6 hours, stirring regularly to prevent it from sticking. This recipe is an adaptation of the original and cooks in half the time or less.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 125 g jasmine rice
  • 1.00 litre Bone Broth
  • 7 thick slices ginger, unpeeled
  • 3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

For the garnishes

  • 3-4 bok choy, or green beans
  • 4-5 large cloves garlic
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • ginger, peeled and shredded, to taste
  • rice vinegar, for steeping
  • 2-3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large green chillies, generally milder, sliced
  • light Tamari sauce
  • toasted sesame oil, optional
  • chilli oil, optional

TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS

For an authentic taste, try to find Chinese sesame oil, chilli oil and light tamari sauce (a superior brand in each case).

METHOD

The Traditional Way:
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, mix together the rice, 1 litre of broth and the ginger and bring up to a simmer. Cover and cook very gently indeed (a heat-diffuser mat is helpful), for at least 1 hour or maybe longer, stirring from time to time; the desired consistency should be that of porridge, and where the rice harmoniously marries with the stock as one; you may need more stock to get it just right. As ever, practice makes perfect. (You may also prefer to cook it in a very low oven, covered, but it must be finished on the stove top.)

2. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes. Steam the bok choy until tender, then slice them. Gently fry the garlic in a little oil until pale golden and lightly crisp. Steep the shredded ginger in a little rice vinegar.

3. Once you are happy with the consistency of the rice, fish out the ginger slices and discard, then add the rice wine and stir in.

4. To finish the congee, ladle it into bowls, distribute the garnishes as you see fit, then trickle on a little of the soy and sesame and/or chilli oils.

 

Congee_ChickenThe Quicker Version: Chicken Congee

Serves 4-6

1 organic free-range chicken, about 1.5kg (3lb 3oz)

200g (7oz) long-grain or basmati brown rice

5cm (2in) piece of fresh root ginger, grated

1 tbsp tamari soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame seed oil (toasted sesame seed oil is fine)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp finely chopped spring onions, to garnish

2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves, to garnish

Place the chicken, rice, and ginger in a large heavy-based saucepan with a lid. Cover the ingredients with water and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 11⁄2–3 hours or until the chicken meat is falling off the bones and the rice is soft. Add more water if necessary during cooking to prevent the congee from boiling dry. Congee should have a thick soup-like consistency.

Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the chicken to a plate, and carefully remove the bones and skin. Shred the chicken meat and return it to the pan. Add the Tamari soy sauce, sesame oil, and sea salt and black pepper to taste, and stir to combine.

Divide the congee between 4 serving bowls, garnish with the spring onions and coriander leaves, and serve.

Tip

Tamari is a type of soy sauce that contains little or no wheat, making it a good, gluten-free choice.

 

congee-seabassSeabass Congee with Kale, Ginger & Dill

It is also fed to those who are feeling under the weather because it is light and delicate. However, congee can be enjoyed any time of the day and a cook can be creative in the kitchen by using it as a base and adding any available ingredients to construct a quick and delightful meal. This is a wonderful tasting and healthy combination. It serves 4 bowls which can easily be enjoyed by 2 people.

Method
Place the fish carcass into a large saucepan of boiling bone broth.  Add cooked rice, fish sauce and chopped ginger to the saucepan and cover the pan with a lid to cook on a medium boil for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the fish into 1cm widths and prepare the kale & dill.
After the rice has been boiling for 15 minutes remove the fish carcass from the pan and discard.
Add the kale to the pan and stir through.
When the congee has come back to the boil add the dill and the strips of fish and gently stir, being careful not to damage the delicate flesh.
Cook for a final two minutes, then serve immediately with a pinch of black pepper.
NB If using uncooked rice, use 80g, wash the grains then add to boiling stock and cook for 7-10 minutes then commence the other stages.

 

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