Life’s a Feast: Chicken and ginger congee

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PREP TIME: 7 mins

COOK TIME: 25 mins

SERVES: 4-5 people

Congee is essentially a rice soup or savoury porridge, made from rice, which is boiled in stock or water.

It’s a simple, nourishing meal that also works wonders on a hangover or those feeling poorly. The key to a good congee lies not only in the stock it’s cooked in, but in the accompaniments, making each mouthful different whether it be something crunchy, pickled or spicy.

Each country has its own take on congee with a varying range of ingredients. Below is a tasty and simple congee recipe with a delicious black bean sauce that can last in the fridge and be used to make other Asian delights, such as black bean beef, chicken stir fries or tasty vegetarian delights. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Congee

5 cups good-quality chicken stock

1 free-range chicken breast

1 cup short grain rice

1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Black bean and chilli sauce

3 long red chillies

6 tablespoons salted black beans, rinsed

1 tablespoon chilli oil (optional)

3 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine

1 1/2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar (all the Asian markets sell this)

2 teaspoons sugar

Garnish

2 spring onions, finely sliced

Small handful fresh coriander (optional)

Method

1.In a medium pot, bring the chicken stock, ginger and soy sauce to the boil. Pop in the chicken breast and poach for 7-9 minutes (depending on size) at a simmer.

2.Remove chicken from the stock, cover and set aside, leaving the stock in the pot.

3.Rinse the rice in a sieve and tip into the stock pot. Bring the rice to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 25 minutes until rice is softer than risotto rice, but not too mushy. The remaining stock should be silky and thick.

4.Meanwhile make the black bean and chilli sauce. Blend chillies, chilli oil and black beans in a small food processor until finely chopped (add an extra tablespoon of peanut oil if you don’t have chilli oil). Alternatively, chop as finely as possible or pound in a pestle and mortar.

5.In a small pot, heat the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil on a low-medium heat, tip in the black bean mix and soften (4-5 minutes).

6.Stir in Shaoxing and vinegar, simmer until reduced by half (2-3 minutes), and stir in the sugar. Note you can refrigerate what you don’t use in a sterile jar for up to three weeks.

7.Take the chicken and shred finely with two forks and add back into the congee about 5 minutes before it’s finished.

8.Serve congee hot, topped with spring onion and the black bean and chilli sauce. You could fry up some shallots to sprinkle over the top as well.

9.You can pop leftover congee in the fridge. When you reheat it, just add a little more stock.

 

*Last week’s recipe for Pumpkin and Coconut Mousse Pie left out instructions for using the teaspoon of cinnamon. It should be added along with the other ingredients in step 8.