Monday, 23 September 2013

Creamy Congee In Thermal Pot

So I have been saying I want to learn how to make the best congee for the longest time. Think thick, savoury, Cantonese restaurant worthy stuff. Problem was that I was a) lazy to start figuring it out since such things require trial and error and b) not really craving for congee enough to try.

Anyway about 2 weeks ago I finally decided to get down to making that pot of congee. First, I scoured YouTube and Google to try and figure out the basics of congee making. Then I read as many recipes as I could online. There were so many methods, some people even blended the uncooked rice grains in a food processor to maximise the starch content of the congee and shorten the stirring time.

Finally, I came up with my own recipe that suited me best. Namely, something that was tasty and thick but which required as little effort and time as possible to make. Also, it could be made using a thermal pot which will allow me to leave the congee to cook while I went about my daily business. I certainly did not want to spend my day slaving over a hot stove stirring congee ala the traditional method.

Guess what, I am proud to say that my first time making congee was a roaring success! Yes I unabashedly claim that because every last bit was slurped up at the dinner table to appreciative sounds of happiness. So here goes, my recipe for Cantonese style congee made in a thermal pot. Its super easy and idiot-proof.


Chicken Congee 
(makes about 3 portions)

1. 3/4 cup Calrose rice 
I use Calrose but any short-grain rice will do. This is important, short grain rice breaks down easily. More starch = More gooey, silky goodness

2. 2 cups chicken stock + approx 3 cups water
I always have homemade chicken stock stored away in the freezer for occasions like this but feel free to use store bought stock. I just find the store stuff abit too intense in flavour for my liking so I don't really like to use it anymore.

3. 2 chicken drumsticks, deboned and meat chopped up into bite-sized pieces. Save the bones.

4. A generous knob of ginger, almost thumb sized, chopped into thin slices

5. 3 dried scallops, soaked in hot water and peeled into strips. Save the liquid that you soaked the scallops in.

Method:
- Wash and rinse rice in thermal pot
- Drizzle some cooking oil and about 1tsp of salt and proceed to coat rice grains with mixture. This is supposed to aid in making your congee silky and smooth.
- Then add chicken stock and water so that the height of the liquid is approx 3x the height of the rice. Adjust qty of water accordingly to reach this.
- Start to boil the mixture on the stove, let it reach a vigorous boil
- Stir occasionally so the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pot, let it boil vigorously for about 5mins.
- Add chicken, chicken bones, ginger slices, dried scallops and the liquid that you saved
- Boil vigorously again, stirring occasionally for another 5mins.
- Switch off the stove, cover the pot and transfer to outer pot. 
- Go about your daily life, you can leave it in there till you are ready to serve the congee but min time needed for cooking is an hr. I usually leave it in there for abt 2-3hrs.

When ready to serve,
- Remove inner pot and place on stove again. Do not panic when you see that ALL the liquid has been soaked up and your congee looks like nothing but a moist glob of rice.
- Add enough water to reach just above the height of the rice glob and switch on your  stove. Start stirring continously.
- Now, its just a matter of adding enough water to reach your desired thickness. I love my congee thick so I don't add much but its all a matter of personal preference.
- Keep stirring so the congee at the bottom of the pot does not burn.
- Discard chicken bones (I prefer to keep them aside to chew on) and serve with garnishing of choice. Mine was spring onions and fried shallots.


** This tastes tons better when you keep it to the next day. Haha....just saying...



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