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Congee

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Just for fun...

regards,

trillium

ding ding ding, we have a winner.

it was a long tough fight. i just couldn't get enough solid hits on him.

then when he hit me with that right uppercut, i just went down for the count.

the winner, in ten rounds, century, by a knockout!!

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Ling   

My favorite congee is with salted pork, pidan, and dried oysters. And the Chinese fried long donut things on the side, of course! :biggrin:

My second favorite is with the sliced fresh fish, scallion, and ginger mentioned in this thread. My dad makes the best version with fresh sole. It's so delicious.

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kai-chan   

Hi,

I like the very smooth HK style chuk/congee. I've has it in restaurants with mixed results. 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??? I'm working on the ex-head cook who is my friend's father but he's very secretive and refuses to divulge anything. He especially won't give me any pointers on his superlative shrimp dumplings (har gow).....they're the best I have ever had and I've been to dim sum joints on both sides of the coast.

kai-chan

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tonkichi   
Hi,

      I like the very smooth HK style chuk/congee. I've has it in restaurants with mixed results. 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??? I'm working on the ex-head cook who is my friend's father but he's very secretive and refuses to divulge anything. He especially won't give me any pointers on his superlative shrimp dumplings (har gow).....they're the best I have ever had and I've been to dim sum joints on both sides of the coast.

kai-chan

I think the secret is chicken fat. The chicken which is quite fatty, is probably cooked separately from the porridge. When the extremely hot congee is poured over it, the fat kind of melt into the congee, imparting the great flavour.

The smoothness is probably from a combination of using new rice, slow cooking, and the fat, again.


Edited by tonkichi (log)

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Not strictly congee, I know, but growing up, whenever we were sick or a little under the weather, my mother would make a pot of 'rice soup' - nothing more than good sticky Korean rice cooked with enough water to make a soupy gruel. Nothing else, not even salt, certainly not broth. This warm, steamy, bland, delicious bowl of comfort is something I still long for occasionally (and it is never the same if you make it for yourself, I can tell you). The best thing, nay the ONLY thing, to accompany it would be what we called in our household 'Korean hot meat' (it's really changjorim), fiercely hot soy-braised shin of beef, cooked for hours with lots of fresh chilies and toasted sesame seed until the gelatinous meat falls apart in shreds, then allowed to cool so that it forms a cold blend of rillette-like strands of meat and bits of red chili, all fused together in a fiery hot, soya gelatine. A big bowl of steaming hot rice soup topped with some fridge-cold Korean hot meat is one of the simplest and greatest food combinations on earth!

MP

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Ben Hong   

It's amazing that no one has mentioned ngow yuk jook, or niu rou chou. Thinly sliced tender beef marinated in soy sauce, a small pinch of sugar, sesame oil. Put over boiling hot bowlful of jook, add scallions, shredded iceberg lettuce and white pepper. Yummm.

Jook cooking: 1 to 7 rice to water ratio. I use half long grain and half glutinous rice.

Bring to boil, immediately turn down to low, low simmer. Add nothing, but stir a lot.

Basic comfort: jook with raw salmon slices, scallions, ginger slivers, white pepper, mam nuoc. Or, just mam nuoc, scallions and white pepper.

Fancy dancy toppings: pork tripe; or pork liver; or oysters and/or scallops; the latter is similar to sampan rice.

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

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Ben Hong   

I don't know if anyone here grew up in a pre-revolution village in China. But, one of my favourite food memories was coming home to lunch from school and seeing my mother dig a small crock out of the ashes of the wok lu (stove). That crock held a treasure that I have not enjoyed since those times - thick jook with salt fish and a bit of ginger slowed cooked in the embers of the stove for 3 hours. We called it "doh fut jook" or stove cavity jook.

I miss my Mother.

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Dejah   

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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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?

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Ben Hong   

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.

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jo-mel   

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.

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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:

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hzrt8w   
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.

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hzrt8w   
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.

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naguere   
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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Dejah   

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:

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hzrt8w   
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.

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Jeannie   

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!

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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.

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Ben Hong   

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

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Jeannie   
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.

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