A simple congee recipe for the beloved customizable rice pudding | Meals

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Pierced by winding rivers and dotted with ponds and lakes, the Jiangnan area within the decrease Yangtze area of China is called the house of Shanghai, the most important metropolis within the nation. However Jiangnan is simply as well-known for its inexperienced land and fertile waters.

“The primary time I heard Jiangnan point out yu mi zhi xiang – the ‘Land of Fish and Rice’ – was when my household and I raced down a small highway previous Taihu, ‘Lake Tai’, with a wonderful golden rice area gently swaying with the breeze on one aspect,” writes Betty Liu in her fantastic cookbook, “My Shanghai: Recipes and Tales From a Metropolis on the Water.”

Of the numerous recipes within the e-book, almost half comprise rice in some type. There are pumpkin rice truffles with crimson bean paste, rice-stuffed pork ribs steamed in lotus leaves, sticky rice rolls crammed with black sesame seeds and way more. However one of many easiest rice recipes is for zhÕu or xi fàn — typically referred to by its Anglicized title, congee.

A easy rice porridge, in its most simple iteration, it’s a mixture of rice and water in a ratio of about 1 half rice and anyplace from 6 to 12 components water. The rice is boiled and simmered till the grains launch all of their starch, which thickens the water as they crumble.

Often known as juk or jook in Korea, bubur in Indonesia, lugaw within the Philippines, teochew in Singapore, and dozens of different names all over the world, there are additionally an countless number of methods to make it. “You may make it with plain water or any inventory … you possibly can differ the flavour with herbs, dried roots, different grains, greens,” Liu tells me over the telephone from Boston, the place she is finishing a surgical coaching. Congee could be eaten plain, however it’s virtually at all times garnished with a number of savory treats earlier than serving.

Her congee recipe is meant as a base for residence cooks to play with, including or subtracting liquid to attain their best texture, supplemented with different grains or greens for taste, and eventually topping with quite a lot of proteins and pickled, preserved or contemporary greens.

In her e-book, Liu suggests filling your congee with pickled greens, a millennial egg, salted duck egg, or chili-fermented tofu. However the prospects are limitless. “After I was a child, we every ate our bowl of congee after which a bowl of fermented bean curd. We would take a spoonful of congee after which use our chopsticks to choose among the fermented bean curd,” says Liu. As of late, she loves it with a drizzle of soy sauce and pickled mustard greens or kimchi.

“However you need to use no matter you need or have available. Leftover duck or leftover Thanksgiving turkey is at all times good in cooler months,” says Liu, who additionally notes that you may rehydrate dried mushrooms, use that liquid to prepare dinner the congee, and saute the mushrooms to serve on prime.

For a spring congee, she suggests sautéed or pickled inexperienced garlic or slopes — shredded right into a pesto or blistered in a sizzling pan — contemporary peas, herbs, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

In the summertime, corn is right on congee, both plain steamed kernels or a mash of contemporary corn, swirled into every bowl. Quartered cherry tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs? Baked eggplant and zucchini? Small, just-cooked shrimp? Sure, sure and sure.

“Rising up, congee was by no means served the identical means,” says Liu. “One message I need to get throughout is that I feel some folks discover Chinese language meals intimidating. However like all residence cooking, there aren’t any actual guidelines for congee. It is your kitchen, it is your guidelines!”