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#45 Cook day-old rice into congee
Leftover rice often ends up as fried rice the next day. But if you want to try something different, try cooking it into congee. And for a richer flavor (and more nutrients), simmer the rice in broth.
My younger daughter, Alex, wears dental braces which are scheduled to come off in about two months. She was at the dentist’s clinic last weekend, the braces were adjusted, and she couldn’t bite and chew regular food comfortably. It’s usually that way for a few days. She asked for congee and I obliged.
I didn’t start from scratch. I used the previous night’s rice that was kept in the fridge. The leftover rice was simmered in broth, whisked often to release the starch and left to allow the congee to thicken naturally. When the rice grains had puffed and broken into tiny pieces, I dropped in a bag of assorted hotpot items (available in the frozen section of Asian groceries) and left them to get heated through in the simmering congee.
Leftover rice can be cooked into congee? Oh, yes! I’ve been doing it for a while and I even managed to turn unevenly cooked rice into a lovely pot of congee. All it takes is good broth, plenty of whisking and patience.
Not everyone likes congee. Not everyone appreciates congee. I didn’t until about a decade ago. Congee was something I associated with illness. It was hospital food for patients who are unable to tolerate solid food. Mostly, the congee I was given as a child was just rice boiled in water with a little salt. Unlikely to whet anyone’s appetite, sick or healthy.
Then, I learned to make congee properly. And, even more importantly, I learned that the proper way to understand and appreciate congee is to treat it as just another bowl of rice. You can top it with anything, or mix anything in it, and the flavor of the dish is transformed.
If you’re a fan of congee (if you’re not, try it once and fall in love) here are a few things to help you along.
How to cook congee (rice porridge) minus the myths - What rice variety is best for cooking congee? Which is better for cooking congee: water or broth? What is the ideal proportion of rice to liquid? Should congee be cooked over low or high heat? Read on.
What to do with unevenly cooked rice - Unscrupulous rice retailers sometimes mix low quality rice with better quality rice for higher profit. As as result, the rice cooks unevenly. Still edible but hardly palatable. Read more.
Crowne Plaza Hong Kong style congee - Served with chopped mushrooms, Chinese sausage and century eggs, Hong Kong Crowne Plaza Hotel's congee transformed this congee non-fan into an aficionado. Get the recipe.
Congee with crispy mushrooms - Battered oyster mushrooms are fried to a crisp and dropped into a hot bowl of congee for an invigorating breakfast. A sprinkle of aonori and spicy furikake adds both vibrance and edge. Get the recipe.
Crispy fried shallots and garlic - Sprinkling crispy fried shallots and garlic over cooked food before serving isn’t merely about aesthetics. They add flavor, texture and aroma that give panache to many Southeast Asian dishes — inluding congee. Learn to make them.