My oriental brunch: chicken and egg congee (my way)
It’ll be lonely meals for one for the next 10 days for me!
As I post this on Sunday morning, my husband will be in France, driving off to the mountains for a week of skiing with friends. I will miss him and also miss seeing my friends but I opted not to go because I actually really fancied some time on my own.
Some of you might find it odd but I think it’s really healthy for couples to spend a bit of time apart. We’ve been married for 14 years and he takes such good care of me –he works from home and looks after the housework and cooking during the week – so it’s important for me to remember how to fend for myself and remember all that he does because, let’s face it, it’s really easy to forget sometimes.
That said, I also have selfish reasons for wanting ‘time aways’ too; while he suffers from cabin fever from working from home, I love spending time in our house since I commute and travel a fair bit for work. It’s rare for me to have the house to myself and I freely admit that I do enjoy having the WHOLE bed to myself – having total control over the TV remote helps too, LOL! 🙂
It’s also a chance for me to cook and eat the foods that my husband doesn’t like, and one of these things is rice porridge or congee. He’s just not into it, so I only get to have this maybe once or twice a year.
Congee, or rice porridge, is traditionally cooked quite plainly because it’s served with any number of small side dishes – from braised peanuts to stewed meats.
As I’m the only one that eats congee in our house, I don’t have the luxury of making all of these sides so over the years, I’ve cheated by trying to impart as much flavour directly into the congee itself, and I do that by poaching chicken pieces in some home made stock and then gently cooking the rice in that stock until it breaks down to become congee.
I made this to have as a brunch this weekend, but it’s nice for lunch or dinner too as it’s almost like a chunky soup, but made with rice and ginger and with oriental flavours.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a nice week ahead.
Lots of love
Ginger chicken and egg congee (makes 2-3 generous servings)
4 pieces of chicken (I like to use thighs or drumsticks but only because I prefer brown meat to white)
1 cup of peeled and finely julienned ginger
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups cooked white rice
1 star anise
5-6 cups of water (or vegetable or chicken stock if you want more flavour)
2-3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 boiled egg, peeled and quartered
(optional) 1 tablespoon roughly chopped peanuts
(optional) 1 teaspoon deep fried shallots
(optional) some toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon oil
(optional) drizzle of sesame oil
In a heavy bottomed pot, sauté your sliced ginger and chopped carrots, celery and onion in your oil on a low to medium heat until softened (about 5-8 minutes). Add your star anise and stock and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and add your chicken pieces. Poach on a low simmer for 40 minutes and then use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken and the star anise.
Bring the stock back up to the boil and add your rice. Cook on a boil for 15 minutes and then turn down to a simmer and cook for a further 1 to 1½ hours, stirring regularly to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pan – this is really dependent on your taste. The longer you cook the congee, the thicker it’ll become.
While the congee is cooking, prepare your chicken by discarding the skin and bones, and either using your fingers or two forks, shred the chicken meat.
When you’re happy with the congee’s consistency, ladle some into a bowl and top it with your shredded chicken, boiled egg, spring onion and other garnishes eg peanuts/coriander etc – whatever you like. Finish it with a tiny drizzle of sesame oil or a sprinkle of sesame seeds.