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Congee

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#61 Dejah

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Posted 27 February 2004 - 09:48 PM

Fresh, thinly sliced pickerel fillet, seasoned with fresh ground white pepper, a little peanut oil and corn starch rub...the perfect addition to jook. I like to add lots of cilantro, a dash of sesame oil and pickled vegetables.

I also "silken" other meats, such as chicken, beef or pork before adding to the jook.
I add the meat when the jook is ready, bring it back to boil and serve. I have never had it with pidan until this year. It's great!

I too remember eating porridge as a savory. Haven't had it since my Mom made it while we were still in HK. This was a favorite as a breakfast on cold days.

I'll be looking after my 95 year old Mom for the next two weeks. This is always a joyful time as I get to learn more traditional cooking. Tonight, she instructed me in making papaya soup. What a waste of a wonderful fruit, but the soup was simple and delicious.
Along with the cooking, she shares many memorie of our old home. Tonight, she was telling me about the wonderful papaya trees in our yard back in Toisan...The melons were much bigger, of course
:wink:
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#62 kangarool

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Posted 14 April 2004 - 11:40 PM

I like the very smooth HK style chuk/congee. ... I've found one at the Sweet & Tart Cafe in Flushing, New York to be extremely smooth, savory, and white. Mine is never as smooth no matter how long I cook it and it's always tinged yellow from the chicken stock. I make my own stock and still my chuk isn't as tasty. Does anyone know what the secret is???


Does anyone have any ideas or advice on how I might get my congee a bit … tastier?

I wrote a post asking precisely the same thing as kai-chan's post, and I saw tankichi's follow-up... but I question if it's simply a matter of the chicken fat.

Every recipe I follow, I always find the same result… that the congee isn’t bad, but noticeably more on the side of "bland" rather than flavoursome. I know that, by definition, a congee isn’t ever going to be a an eyebrow-raising powerpack of flavour, but, mine always seem more watery and thin than the kind I like, that I've have in restaurants.

I’m either choosing the wrong recipes to try, or I’m missing something. The reason I’m posting now, in fact, is that I was out til way late last night drinking with some mates, and since we were next door to Chinatown, we popped into our favourite restaurant for a 3 a.m. snack. I chose a preserved duck egg and pork congee, along with some chinese doughnut alongside, and it was perfect. There really was a lot of flavour, and not just from the egg, pork, or fried doughnut – the soup itself was really tasty.

I’ve made it before with just water, with just chicken stock, with prawn stock, different rices, lots of salt, little salt, different ratios of rice to liquid, but still haven't found what I'm jooking for. The only other clue I can provide, is that the congees I like often have a really creamy texture, but obviously not from any dairy product. And the creaminess doesn’t seem to just come from the broken down rice kernals/starches …. There’s a different kind of smoothness to them that I’ve just not been able to replicate.

As I said, I’m clearly missing something. Any other help? Kai-chan, have you had any further luck with your congees or questions to the expert?

#63 Ben Hong

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 06:29 AM

May I humbly offer a small observation, without feathers getting ruffled?

Jook/chuk/chou/congee is NOT soup in the normal sense, at it's basic "raison d'etre", it is a bland, almost tasteless palette on which you add flavours and condiments, the exact same purpose a bowl of white rice fills. Yes, you can use chicken stock, beef stock etc. to make it tastier, "tout a son gout", but I prefer it made with plain water. The intense "tastiness" or "umami" in Japanese, maybe comes from real good strong stock that restaurants can make, but you may want to accentuate your own broth based jook's tastiness by the simple expedient of a small dash of msg. :hmmm: :cool:

Jook is still considered by many to be a poor man's rice, if eaten as a main at a main meal.

#64 jo-mel

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 08:33 AM

I wish I could remember which author it was, but one of the familiar authors of Chinese cookbooks, was just finishing the rounds after her latest book had come out. She was interviewed all over the country, being wined and dined, and she was asked what was the first dish she was going to make for herself when she finally got home.

Her answer? A plain bowl of congee. Nothing fancy --- just comfort food.

#65 kangarool

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 04:49 PM

May I humbly offer a small observation, without feathers getting ruffled?

Jook/chuk/chou/congee is NOT soup in the normal sense, at it's basic "raison d'etre", it is  a bland, almost tasteless palette on which you add flavours and condiments, the exact same purpose a bowl of white rice fills.
Jook is still considered by many to be a poor man's rice, if eaten as a main at a main meal.

Ben, no feathers ruffled whatsoever (if I’m correct in presuming your comment was posted primarily for my benefit), indeed, it was fully anticipated. I suppose I should have qualified my comment with the fact that I'm wholly cognizant that my preference for the taste/flavour of what I refer to as "congee" may not totally, or even partially, resemble what you refer to as authentic jook/chuk/chou/congee. In fact, I'm 100% aware that congee is to canvas as additional ingredients are to paint. But I was asking about something non-authentic (presumably) and, as you pointed out, adapted to my preference and taste, not to authentic reproduction.

I guess it just seemed more reasonable to post the sincere query on this thread, rather than starting a new topic along the lines of "I’m Looking For Help in Developing a Hybrid Soup & Jook/Chuk/Chou/Congee Concoction That I Acknowledge Isn’t 100% Pure & Unadulterated Jook/Chuk/Chou/Congee But Still Has Significantly Similar Properties and Construction That One Might Reasonably Think It’s A Variation On Jook/Chuk/Chou/Congee But Still With Enough Souplike Properties That One Would Also Immediately Acknowledge That It Isn’t Just Jook/Chuk/Chou/Congee."


As I said, no feathers ruffled at all, mate. :wink:

#66 hzrt8w

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 12:14 AM

Does anyone have any ideas or advice on how I might get my congee a bit … tastier?

Every recipe I follow, I always find the same result… that the congee isn’t bad, but noticeably more on the side of "bland" rather than flavoursome.......

..... The only other clue I can provide, is that the congees I like often have a really creamy texture, but obviously not from any dairy product. And the creaminess doesn’t seem to just come from the broken down rice kernals/starches …. There’s a different kind of smoothness to them that I’ve just not been able to replicate.

Kangarool: I have 2 suggestions for you on your quest to make better tasting and smoother congee.

1) Instead of using chicken stock or other stock to enhance the flavor, try making your congee with bones (e.g. chicken bones, beef bones, pork bones, turkey bones). Sometimes when I make barbequed chicken for dinner, after all the meats are carved and served, I save the chicken carcass (mostly bones but still with some meats on, still carrying some smokey flavor) in the freezer until the weekend to make some congee with it.

Similar congee making process as said by earlier posters. Rice to water ratio about 1:7 (you need to adjust but start with that). Bring to a boil first then simmer overnight in a crockpot.

2) To get the "creamy texture", try using some UNSWEETENED soya milk in place of water (e.g. 3 to 4 cups of it for one pot of congee) in making your congee.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#67 hzrt8w

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 11:18 AM

Speaking of sampans, memories of eating on a gently rocking sampan in the middle of HK harbour, catered to by a boat girl (dang ga nui) who also operated the boat, in the early sixties.......mmmm

Ben: I think you can still go to Causeway Bay to eat in a gently rocking sampan in the middle of Victoria Harbor in the 2000's. Though I am not sure if you can find the same Dang Ga Nui.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#68 naguere

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 12:17 PM

Speaking of sampans, memories of eating on a gently rocking sampan in the middle of HK harbour, catered to by a boat girl (dang ga nui) who also operated the boat, in the early sixties.......mmmm

Ben: I think you can still go to Causeway Bay to eat in a gently rocking sampan in the middle of Victoria Harbor in the 2000's. Though I am not sure if you can find the same Dang Ga Nui.

Yep.
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#69 Dejah

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 12:29 PM

Revival of this thread prompted me to make congee for lunch today.

9 am Started the big pot boiling with a fresh chicken carcass, big slices of ginger and jasmine rice (didn't measure). I let that boil for about 15 minutes, then turned the heat down to medium for about half an hour. Had some errands to run, so turned the stove down to low to let the congee simmer.

I got back around 11:30 with long donuts and fresh cilantro in hand. Had some fresh pickerel, so I sliced that up, along with some fresh chicken breast. These were silkened with veg oil, cornstarch, a little salt and added to the congee when it came back to a boil. The texture of the congee was definitely creamy.

To serve, we had little dishes of light soya sauce mixed with chopped cilantro, sesame oil, fresh ground pepper. I like to eat my congee with the added crunch of chili radish in sesame oil. The congee had bite and we could still taste the delicate pickerel slices and chicken.

When I was last in the city, I bought packages of "instant" natural jelly fish.
The one I tried today was chili vinegar seasoning. Hubby asked why I enjoy
eating "Chinese rubber bands!" :laugh:
Dejah
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#70 hzrt8w

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 02:18 PM

When I was last in the city, I bought packages of "instant" natural jelly fish...... Hubby asked why I enjoy
eating "Chinese rubber bands!" :laugh:

Oh, yeah. "rubberband" is another name for jelly fish. It has perfectly the same color and (almost) texture too. I love eating Chinese rubberbands.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#71 Ben Hong

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Posted 10 July 2004 - 03:12 PM

Shoot guys, that same "dang ga nui" would be a grandmother now :biggrin: :wink: :wink: :wink:

#72 Jeannie

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 03:03 PM

Anyone know where the word congee comes from? It doesn't sound anything like zhou/jook or any other variation I've seen on this thread.

Also on pao fan/xi fan, this is something that the shanghainese eat at breakfast. It's easy to make what with just using the cold leftover rice from the day before. I think the whole point of it is the blandness. It's not cooked with anything apart from hot water and you eat it with a bit of fermented tofu, pickles or left over dishes from the night before.

I think the Shanghainese like it's blandness, I've heard various members of the family say that there is nothing more comfortable then a bowl of xi fan. They definitely make the distinction between xi fan and zhou which is also cooked in Shanghai and therefore I would not classify xi fan as "congee".

GarySoup, my dad also jokes that since I've left home he has such a hard life as my mum can't be bothered to cook so he has to eat pao fan every day!

#73 Gary Soup

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 06:31 PM

GarySoup, my dad also jokes that since I've left home he has such a hard life as my mum can't be bothered to cook so he has to eat pao fan every day!

I don't know how many times my wife or mother-in-law have prepared a sumptious multi-course meal and then just said, dramatically, "me, I'll just eat pao fan." It's a badge of ostentatious suffering, which Shanghainese mothers seem to like wearing as much as Jewish mothers. Your father may have his tongue in his cheek.

I would guess that "congee" probably has an Indian origin.

#74 Ben Hong

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Posted 11 July 2004 - 08:11 PM

Gary, I love the term "ostentatious suffering". That kind of "suffering" is the stuff from which that great Chinese emotion, GUILT is forged. :biggrin:

#75 Jeannie

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 01:38 PM

Gary, I love the term "ostentatious suffering". That kind of "suffering" is the stuff from which that great Chinese emotion, GUILT is forged. :biggrin:

Guilt, tell me about it! My parents have got to the stage where they keep going on about how they either want to be buried near Shanghai or anywhere near me so that I could visit them depending on their mood. They are only in their 50s! They seem to think it's funny to be joking about this.

#76 saluki

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Posted 07 August 2004 - 05:37 PM

.  To get the Cantonese consistency, my mom always taught me to "wash" the rice with coarse salt and oil. good luck experimenting.

Hi,
This is my first post and I love this thread. I am addicted to the Cantonese version of
Chicken and Ginger Congee, but mine never comes close. I use the crock pot and have taken Trillium's suggestion about adding the glutoneous rice flower disolve in water
and stirred in at the end. It still does not have the same mouth feel.

I read the comment about " washing" the rice in salt and oil and would like too know if anyone can describe the procedure Any other suggestions? Thanks, :unsure:

Edited by saluki, 07 August 2004 - 05:40 PM.


#77 Hest88

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Posted 07 August 2004 - 07:59 PM

My mother never mentions salt, but she does say I should use oil for the rice. Basically, the "washing" is just massaging oil through the rice before using.

#78 Yuki

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 12:58 AM

In a Hong Kong food magazine, they searched for the best congee and asked some questions. Some chef said that they wash the rice with thousand year eggs before cooking. It is believe to add more flavors to the congee.....


Also, some congee contains dried bean curd.

#79 Dejah

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 11:28 AM

.  To get the Cantonese consistency, my mom always taught me to "wash" the rice with coarse salt and oil. good luck experimenting.

Hi,
This is my first post and I love this thread. I am addicted to the Cantonese version of
Chicken and Ginger Congee, but mine never comes close. I use the crock pot and have taken Trillium's suggestion about adding the glutoneous rice flower disolve in water
and stirred in at the end. It still does not have the same mouth feel.

I read the comment about " washing" the rice in salt and oil and would like too know if anyone can describe the procedure Any other suggestions? Thanks, :unsure:

Ok, I cook congee quite often for brunch and usually with chicken and ginger. But, what IS this Cantonese version?

Is it supposed to be thin? Thick? Rice still in granular form? Like gruel?

Aiyeeeah! :rolleyes:

I like mine with substance!
Dejah
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#80 Ben Hong

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 12:25 PM

Holy Hannah, so much commentary on so simple a dish. Jook is wet rice or rice "porridge". Thin, creamy or thick, adjust water/broth content and time on the heat. Very basically it is a bland palette in which you add your flavours. Experiment, the possibilties are endless. Jook has recently become popular, but it is still regarded as a pauper's staple in some quarters.

#81 Hest88

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 01:51 PM

My mother never mentions salt, but she does say I should use oil for the rice. Basically, the "washing" is just massaging oil through the rice before using.

Oh wait, I lied. I just talked to my mom and she indeed says oil AND salt. I just blanked for a bit there, in the same way I often blank when my mother is telling me what a good Chinese daughter is supposed to do. :laugh:

#82 FaustianBargain

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Posted 30 August 2004 - 09:24 AM

I would guess that "congee" probably has an Indian origin.

we call it kanji...nothing like the huge bowls of meat/veg/spiced congees i have had at the local chinese restaurants...often made for sick tummies for easy digestion or when patients are recovering..after a particularly nasty fever episode and your tongue is coated white and your taste buds are dead anyways...gah....or the working man's staple...cooked rice cooked again in water..often accompanied by half an onion and a raw green chilli.

sweet or salty, it can be made with milk, buttermilk or just water...richer versions of the sweet kanjis can include cardamom and milk..which is kinda weird, if you ask me...rice with milk, sugar and cardamom is a dessert(kheer)..i suppose sweet(with expensive ingredients) kanjis are 'thin' kheers ...kanji is mostly made with rice..altho' semolina, tapioca or wheat may also be used sometimes(starch basically...fills you up..easy digestion..easily converted to ready carbs..) for the sickbed...other kanji versions can be made with barley, oats or arrowroot...the indian kanjis i know are mild and bland...not that there is anything wrong with that..:biggrin:

#83 Laksa

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Posted 30 August 2004 - 12:08 PM

the indian kanjis i know are mild and bland...not that there is anything wrong with that..:biggrin:

Not all the Chinese congees are of the flavored variety. One of my favorite ways to have congee is to have it completely plain, but served with sides of fermented bean curd, preserved bamboo shoots, Chinese crullers, salted egg, century egg, fried peanuts and anchovies, or other pickles or preserved foods. I believe this is known as Teochew style congee.

My mum always make plain congee from scratch, never from leftover rice.

Occasionally, she would a different style which contains, in addition to rice, sweet potatoes or green (lentil) beans. These were not eaten with savory sides.

#84 hzrt8w

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Posted 31 August 2004 - 12:37 AM

I believe this is known as Teochew style congee.

In Teochew style (or Chiu Chow style in Cantonese) congee, they don't boil the rice as long as the Canton style. Chiu Chow style retains the rice grains. In Canton style, all rice grains are dissolved into the congee.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#85 infernooo

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 02:29 PM

Hi everyone,

I am sorry to bother you all like this... but I wanted to ask a quick question about making congee....

After reading the Fermented bean curd thread, I decided that I want to try make some congee with a little Fermented Bean Curd/Preserved Bean Curd spooned on top or mixed in at the end.

When making congee, approximately what ratio of water to rice to I use? Also, what type of rice do I use? Short grain, medium grain, long grain... ? Finally, assuming I dont have a slow cooker, what do you think is the best way to cook it and how do you know when it is done?

Thanks!

#86 mizducky

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 02:52 PM

Hi everyone,

I am sorry to bother you all like this... but I wanted to ask a quick question about making congee....

After reading the Fermented bean curd thread, I decided that I want to try make some congee with a little Fermented Bean Curd/Preserved Bean Curd spooned on top or mixed in at the end.

When making congee, approximately what ratio of water to rice to I use? Also, what type of rice do I use? Short grain, medium grain, long grain... ? Finally, assuming I dont have a slow cooker, what do you think is the best way to cook it and how do you know when it is done?

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Hi, infernooo -- I like your eGullet nickname! :smile:

I trust you'd already checked out "hzrt8w's" pictorial all about making congee. I also have a very simplified stovetop congee in my blog this week, starting at this post plus a couple more following. It's easy to cook congee on the stovetop--just make sure you have a really heavy-bottomed saucepan (or a heat diffuser for under your pot) to help protect it from scorching, with a well-fitting lid to help prevent too much liquid steaming away.

As to the rice-to-water ratio: you can vary it as desired depending on how thick you like your congee. I like mine really thick, so in that blog post I think I did a generous 1/3 cup of raw rice in 4 cups of water. I've seen recipes do ratios like 1/2 cup rice in 5 to six cups of water, or even lower rice-to-water ratios than that. And I understand that some regions do a combination of ground/pulverized rice and whole raw rice to get a much smoother texture. Cooking time: you basically cook it, giving it an occasional stir, until it's the texture you desire--but count on at least an hour, and a good couple of hours won't hurt.

#87 hzrt8w

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 04:39 PM

When making congee, approximately what ratio of water to rice to I use?

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Thanks mizducky! It's nice to have a publicist. :biggrin:

In my recipe, I use 2 of those small cups of rice, which is equivalent to 1 1/2 US cup. 2.5 quart of water (roughly) is 10 US cups. So, that makes a 1.5 to 10 (rice to water) ratio by volume.

That's only for the Cantonese style congee. In Teochew style, their congee has a better grain to water contrast instead of being sticky-soupy. In Shanghai and Beijing, their congee is a bit different too. In Mandarin they call it "xi fan", which literally means "diluted rice".

I use long grain rice (jasmine rice), as seen in the picture. I think short grain is more glutinous.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#88 infernooo

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 05:03 PM

Thanks for the replies!

Wow, I didn't know jasmine rice would be a cantonese thing to use... I figured if I used long grain rice, it would be plain old long grain (not fragrant like jasmine).

#89 miladyinsanity

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 09:53 PM

Xi fan is more like rice gruel, and the Teochew style is closer to Xi fan than the Cantonese style one. Some people use broken rice to make congee. And IMHO, the Cantonese style makes into rice glue, not porridge.

Edited by miladyinsanity, 21 January 2006 - 09:54 PM.

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

#90 Tepee

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 08:14 AM

Frankly, I've never had Cantonese glue before - although I was raised on my mom's cantonese cooking - until I ate it in Spore last year. I gave it 2 spoonfuls and that was it. Horrible. Mom's cantonese porridge and, well, now mine, is never gooey...pasty, yes. Just had dinner at mom's....and it was superb pork ribs/groundnut porridge, eaten with freshly dry-fried/ground white pepper, spring onions/coriander, and mom's homemade pork yuk gon. Fantastic dose of LOVE from food and family. :wub:
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