Friday, March 11, 2005

Rice Congee for Frog 

A little background I found on the dish:

"Unlike [in the U.S.], where there are specific foods identified with the morning meal, [in Asia] the distinction between what is eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner is not as clear.

Often, breakfast is a mini-version of lunch or dinner, and among farmers and laborers, it is just as substantial as any other meal of the day. When I was growing up, leftovers from the evening before plus one or two simple, newly cooked dishes served with rice made a satisfying morning meal before the family headed off for school and office.


But if I had to name just one food most closely associated with breakfast, the most likely candidate would probably be rice congee. The soupy rice mixture is made either plain and served with a variety of salty, pickled and stir-fried dishes; or chicken, pork, fish or shrimp can be cooked in with the soup and flavored with garlic, ginger, scallions and cilantro.

To make congee, rice is boiled in lots of water or broth until the grains have grown many times their size and are still swimming in excess fluid. The grains may also be cooked down until they completely disintegrate and become the texture of creamy rice cereal. Made either way, congee is very nutritious and highly recommended for people suffering from fatigue, digestive problems and illness. It is easy to digest and contains nutrients in ready form to be absorbed and used, thereby enabling quick revitalization of the body. What better way to "break" the "fast" of the night and begin a new day of productive activity than to partake of a vitalizing bowl of steaming rice soup!"

Chicken Rice Congee

This is written for a stovetop, but it also works very well in a crockpot.

8 cups good, unsalted chicken stock (this is when I use the homemade, thick with gelatin)
1 cup rice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce, to taste
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
½ cup (fresh, or dried and reconstituted) shitake mushrooms, sliced

Possible Garnishes
fresh coriander leaves
shredded lettuce
green onions, chopped
hard cooked eggs, or cooked omleet-style and cut into strips
hot pepper flakes
sesame oil
additional soy sauce

Bring chicken stock to a boil, add the rice, garlic, and ginger and the garlic, reduce the heat and simmer for approx 2 hours until the grains break down but not completely disintegrate, stir occasionally.

Add the chicken or mushrooms, and cook for two minutes.

Taste the soup and add soy, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in bowls, drizzled with sesame oil. Makes 4-6 servings.

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