Rice chef/co-owner Abraham Conlon provided a home-cook
friendly version of his congee that tops the dish with
egg, mushrooms, tofu and more.
ó itís not just for breakfast anymore. Chefs are
spooning up the comforting rice porridge all kinds of ways
at brunch, lunch and dinner too.
Minh Phan of Porridge and Puffs in Los Angeles.
porridge is one of the oldest of any and every culture, I
think it is only (now) coming into its own modern
iteration," Phan writes in an email. "As for the
LA scene, I hope porridge becomes the new ramen" ó
meaning the reimagined dish of the moment.
just overcooked rice," says LA chef Mei Lin. Yet
belying that humble description, her souped up version with
carnitas, scallion puree, hot sauce, peanuts and egg yolk
helped her cement the title of Top Chef on the Bravo TV showís
12 season in February.
is one of the few dishes chefs are becoming known for that
home cooks can realistically do themselves using whatever
ingredients and garnishes they have on-hand, as the curried
vegetarian congee from Abraham Conlon, chef/co-owner of Fat
Rice in Chicago, proves. For whatever else congee may be or
could become in terms of restaurant trends, it continues to
be an enduring staple for millions every day. Indeed, itís
known across many Asian cuisines: In China, itís "jook"
or "juk," in Korea "juk" and in Thailand
"khao tom gung," according to "The New Food
Loverís Companion. Phan notes itís "chao" in
grew up with it as comfort food," says Lin, who is
developing a restaurant in LA. She notes that anyone
familiar with grits or risotto should be able to relate to
can flavor it anyway you want," she adds. "It can
be an all-day type dish. I eat it for breakfast and I can
eat it for dinner. Itís universal."
chefs put their spin on this homey dish, they also are
focusing on the grain. Both Conlon and Phan note you donít
have to use just rice. Try teff, amaranth, quinoa, millet or
buckwheat. Thatís one reason Phan prefers to use the term
"California porridge" in referring to her dishes
because congee is a word that "sets up people for an
is a more general term, giving us flexibility in not only
the grains we use, but range in cooking techniques, and
expectation of flavor, consistency," she wrote.
"For the most part, our porridge is most similar to
Asian porridge because of the chosen grain; however, the
consistency is more similar to risotto."
porridges, she says "definitely taste like
says congee in Cantonese cuisine tends to have
"lighter, simpler flavors" ó perhaps a preserved
duck egg or scallions and some soy sauce or chili oil. But,
as Lin proved with her winning congee, the flavor spectrum
is widening markedly.
thereís nothing Phan canít think of anything in a home
kitchen that doesnít go with her porridge. Peanut butter
or Nutella works with kasha or oatmeal. Soy sauce and ponzu
pair well with rice. Donít forget butter, olive oil and
jams, both sweet and savory, she added. On her menu is a
porridge called pickles and jam: heirloom rice paired with a
spicy lemon grass jam and mustard green pickles.
beauty of congee is a combination of two things, a simply
flavored creamy rice/legume porridge and highly flavored
contrasting garnish," Conlon wrote in an email.
yes, Conlon is up for congee at breakfast, too.
can put in things that are like a little bit of fish or a
little bit of chicken or a little bit of hard boiled egg to
give you great energy of the day," he says.
can start with raw rice or cooked rice in this recipe from
Abraham Conlon of Fat Rice. We used raw rice, but give his
directions for using cooked rice below. For the cooking
liquid, use chicken, fish pork or vegetable broth, or water
flavored with a little ginger and green onion, Conlon says.
cup raw jasmine rice, rinsed in water to remove excess
starch1 quart water
cup coconut milk, optional
inch slice ginger, left whole
teaspoon curry powder, optional
In a 2
quart saucepan, combine rice, water or broth, coconut milk
(If not using coconut milk supplement with equal amount of
water or broth), ginger and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a
boil and let boil, 2 minutes. Turn the heat down to a
simmer; cook until the raw rice is fully cooked and staring
to break apart, about 15 minutes. Add curry powder and
remaining salt. Cook, stirring, until rice achieves desired
texture. The rice should continue breaking up and thickening
the liquid. Remove ginger piece; serve piping hot with
rice: If starting with cooked rice, use 1 cup cooked rice, 3
1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1/4-inch slice ginger,
1 teaspoon curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Follow
directions above; but cooked rice start to break up in 7-8
sliced green onions
sauce, sriracha, etc.
mushrooms, such as trumpet or shiitake
fish, crab or pork, cubed or shredded
WITH CARNITAS, SCALLION PUREE, HOT SAUCE, PEANUTS AND EGG
recipe is based on one Mei Lin used to help clinch the
season 12 title on Bravo TVís "Top Chef." Look
for avocado leaves at Mexican groceries or omit them. Lin
used an egg yolk slow-poached in a sous vide machine to add
silky richness to her winning dish. We suggest a soft-cooked
cup grapeseed or canola oil
pound pork butt (fattier the better)
quarts chicken stock
garlic, cloves separated, peeled
avocado leaves, optional
tablespoon coriander seeds
tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
cup minced onions
cloves garlic, minced
cup sushi rice
ground white pepper
onion, cut in small dice
cloves garlic, minced
tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
(4 ounces) chile de arbol (aka de arbol peppers), softened,
chipotle peppers in adobo
bunches scallions, green portions only
1 to 2
tablespoons olive oil
spiced peanuts (or plain roasted peanuts), minced cilantro
stems, soft-cooked egg
the braised pork, toss the onions with a little oil. Roast
on a rimmed baking sheet in a 425 degree oven until
caramelized, 30-45 minutes.
tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; sear
pork on all sides, 10 minutes. Transfer pork to the insert
of a pressure cooker. Add caramelized onions, chicken stock,
garlic, soy sauce, tamarind paste, avocado leaves, if using,
and coriander seeds. Lock lid. Cook, 45 minutes on high.
(Alternatively, cook in a Dutch oven over low heat until
tender.) Use the quick-release method to bring the potís
pressure to normal. Unlock the pot. Shred pork; fry until
crispy in a skillet with remaining oil. Strain braising
liquid, discarding solids; reduce liquid in a saucepan over
medium heat until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Add
crispy pork back to braising liquid.
the congee, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook
onions and garlic until softened, 5 minutes. Add rice;
toast, stirring, 3 minutes. Add stock and water. Lower heat
to a simmer. Cook at a simmer until thick like a pureed
soup. Keep in mind to stir every 5 minutes to ensure it
doesnít scorch the bottom of the pan. Adjust the way you
like your congee, I like mine on the looser side. Season
with salt and white pepper to taste.
the hot sauce, cook the onions and garlic in the oil over
medium heat until softened. Transfer to a food processor;
add chile de arbol and chipotle peppers. Process until
smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
the scallion puree, cut the greens into small pieces. In a
hot pan, add oil. Saute greens until they become vibrant
green, 30 seconds. Add a bit of water for it to steam;
remove from heat immediately. Puree in food processor until
smooth and silky. Season with salt.
serve, garnish bowls of congee with the pork, hot sauce,
scallion puree, peanuts, cilantro and egg.
Place chilies in a bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand
until softened, 20 minutes. Drain.