Congee is the ultimate comfort food; warming, silky, filling and satisfying. The secret to a good congee is a flavoursome stock, so it is worth preparing your stock from fresh to truly appreciate this simple dish. It is best to use meat on the bone to pack your stock with flavour, whether it be pork ribs (fabulous served with preserved egg) or as in this case, chicken.
Although traditionally a breakfast dish, Congee makes for a delicious meal anytime of the day. I particularly enjoy it for Sunday brunch, or when feeling ill; especially good when hung-over!
This recipe is as reminiscent of the delicious congee a friend used to cook up for us all when I lived in Hong Kong, with a few minor tweaks along the way. Give it a go.
Prep Time – 15minutes
Cook Time – 2 hours
Serves – 4 to 6
200grams Jasmine Rice
2 chicken legs
2 litres of water
4 spring onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 knob of Ginger
Small bunch of coriander
1 tbsp of groundnut oil
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1tbsp Sesame Oil
4 spring onions
1 inch long knob of Ginger
1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
A few unsalted peanuts or cashews (about 20grams)
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp sugar
- First rinse your rice and then add to a pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 1 to 2 hours (this will improve the texture of your congee).
- Whilst the rice is soaking, joint your chicken legs into drumsticks and thighs by cutting through at the joint with a heavy knife. You can leave them whole if you prefer.
- Roughly chop the spring onions. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and ginger.
- Add a tablespoon of oil to a large heavy based pan, lightly brown your chicken pieces on both sides, remove and set aside.
- Add the chopped garlic, spring onion and garlic to the same pan and stir for just a minute in the oil left over from the chicken. Then, return the chicken to the pan and pour in the 2litres of cold water. Add the coriander. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, place a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, remove the stock liquid from the heat and transfer the chicken pieces onto a plate to cool. Once cool to the touch, remove the meat from the chicken legs, discarding the skin and bones. Shred the meat into small pieces and set aside.
- Strain your stock liquid through a mesh sieve into a bowl and then pour back into the large pan. Drain and rinse the soaked rice and add to the pan with the stock. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce to a low heat. Gently simmer for 45mins to an hour, stirring occasionally to ensure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- The rice will begin to mash up and disintegrate forming a glossy porridge like texture. When you are happy with the consistency (some people like their congee very thick, others thinner) add the chicken and a good pinch of sea salt to the dish, stir and taste, add more salt as required.Your congee is done.
- Finely chop the spring onions, peel and finely chop the ginger (grate if you prefer) and place in a serving bowl
- Heat up the groundnut and sesame oil in a pan or a heavy duty metal ladle until smoking. Pour the hot oil over the chopped onions & ginger and leave them to sizzle.
- Add the rest of the garnish ingredients – soy, sugar, white pepper, nuts – and mix thoroughly.
- Serve a small helping on top of a bowl of congee, or separately so that everyone can help themselves.
The Essex Food and Drink Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the very best of all things food and drink in Essex. The awards especially honour the champions working across the region’s industry – whether producing, selling or cooking our glorious food. Together they make the county the very best place for purchasing and consuming locally-produced food of unsurpassed quality.
The awards were first launched in 2008 to put a spot light on the industry in Essex. We believe they represent a fantastic opportunity for Essex to positively shine. The standard and quality of products and establishments simply gets better each year reflecting the regard with which these awards are held and we are looking forward to a fantastic competition in 2010.
So if you have visited an Essex Restaurant or pub and enjoyed a particularly good meal or you have been impressed with the produce and service at your local farm shop or baker, then let us know. Who knows they could be a winner this year.
Celebrity Chef and British Master Chef Mark Baumann, Baumanns Brasserie heads up the judging panel to find the Essex Chef of the Year. Mark said “I am delighted to once again be involved with the Essex food and drink awards as we are awash with amazing talent. Essex has been maligned for so long somewhat inexplicably to me, but its now our turn to fight back. The Essex Food and Drink Awards at last highlights the potential in our professional foodies, our fine eateries, suppliers and natural raw and developing talent and brings to the forefront secrets that have for so long been kept.”
The awards launched on 25th March. Look out for full coverage in the Essex Chronicle and Brentwood Gazette or visit the awards web site for details of all the categories and how to vote for your favourite places.
An exciting new series for Channel 4…
‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’ is an exciting new series dedicated to celebrating the finest restaurants in the UK. Restaurants nominated by the public will be tested to the highest level by Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsay and the series will culminate in one culinary hero being crowned ‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant’.
Gordon’s journey will see him travel the length and the breadth of Britain in search of brilliant restaurants that deliver gastronomic perfection and wonderful customer service. He’ll meet restaurant owners who refuse to be daunted by the threat from ubiquitous chains and who are determined to survive the recession on their own terms and with their exceptionally high standards intact. He’ll seek out culinary heroes working in the kitchens and front of house at independent restaurants across the UK whose brilliance deserves to be recognised.
Each of the eight heats will focus on a different type of cuisine including Italian, French, Indian and British categories and this year there’s a new category – Fine Dining. Will one of the big boys of the restaurant world come out on top? Or will a small local restaurant take down the Goliaths of the kitchen? The chef’s culinary abilities will be tested as Gordon sets the kitchen brigades some of the toughest challenges they’ve faced in their careers. The pressure will truly be on as the competitors could face anything in their heat, in the super tough semi-finals and in the head-to-head cook-off that is the series final. Only one brilliant contender can win the title of “Ramsay’s Best Restaurant.” Who will it be?
The series will follow the highs and lows of the passionate chefs, restaurateurs and of Gordon himself as he tries to find his worthy champion.
Restaurants can only take part in the competition if they’ve been nominated. We’re looking for restaurants of the highest calibre so if you know a fantastic restaurant that is worthy of the title then please visit www.bestnominate.com and nominate them now.
So come on people of Essex, make your vote count and nominate your favourite restaurant in the area, it would be great to see an Essex business featured on the programme!