I could have been a Marx Brother with lines like that 😉
A classic film and also this weeks dish.
Duck and corn congee to be precise.
Mrs. Teasdale: Oh, your Excellency!
Rufus T. Firefly: You’re not so bad yourself.
Congee, for the uninitiated, is a simple soupy porridge affair of rice cooked in broth or water, using the rice to thicken the soup as it breaks down.
As for its origins, I can’t say. Certainly Asia.
Everywhere from China to Indonesia has its own version. Almost certainly a peasant dish created to feed the many with limited resources, but now appearing in all forms on menus everywhere.
This is a 24/7 dish, great for anytime of day. You’ll even find it on trendy breakfast menus, with a trendier 63*egg on top.A Chinese chef that I trained with years ago (hi Jimmy Lew) always talked about congee being more than just the broth, that it becomes a meal with its condiments and accompaniments. Vegetables, spices, pickles, greens, sauces, nuts and seeds. That’s what makes congee exciting.
I agree. This is our version.
Rinse the rice well and drain . Strip the flesh and skin off the duck. Rinse the bones. Place the rice along with the garlic, ginger, bones, corn, corn cob and liquid (we added a little rice wine and a bay leaf as an after thought) in a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Turn it down to a low simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking. Remove the bones, cob and bay leaf. Discard. The rice should be breaking down and thickening the broth. Season to taste and serve with these extras. Alternatively, substitute duck with left over roast anything. Or seafood. Shitake mushrooms and tofu will satisfy vegan and vegetarian alike.*Our soup condiments included chopped duck made crispy in a pan. Chopped coriander, spring onions and sugar snap peas for freshness, toasted sesame and fried shallots for crunch. Lemon, soy, chilli and hoi sin for flavour. Eggs are a popular addition as well. Boiled, fried or poached. Or to give the soup a dash of creamy elegance, fold a couple of yolks through the pot just before serving. Transformation.
*Ambassador Trentino: I didn’t come here to be insulted!
Rufus T. Firefly: That’s what you think!”
With a good base congee and lots of sides you can really tailor this to everyone’s needs, making it great for a shared family meal. Kid had hoi-sin, I like chilli sauce. Not salty enough for you? Add a little soy. You get the idea. We used a slow cooker on high and it was done in around four hours. Apparently some rice cookers have a congee setting so you can set and forget, all day or overnight. But the stove is quicker. On that note, white rice is quicker again and more commonly used. We just happen to be a brown rice house.
“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
What Kid Did
Well. What DIDN’T kid do? There was rice to be washed, corn sheathed, sugar snaps topped and tailed.
Herbs and spring onions to wash and pick. Sesame seeds to toast on the stove. Duck to pick off the bones and bones to wash. Jiu-jitsu to get to, homework to finish, bags un-packed after the long weekend away.
A discussion came up somewhere on social media this week about kids using knives at home. The big knives. I’m probably a little paranoid about it, having seen adults commit some pretty heinous assaults on themselves (me included) at work. So I’m in no hurry to go down that path. When she’s ready I think we’ll know and frankly, I’m in no hurry. She’s 10 and so far a small knife for topping some beans is fine.
“Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you: he really is an idiot.”
At that same restaurant where I trained with Jimmy Lew I also worked for a time with Kid’s uncle Pete (way before Kid had even been thought about.) Sometimes on a slow Sunday night we’d roll our chef pants up and waddle around the kitchen pretending to hold cigars, singing ‘Groucho, Groucho, Groucho Marx!’
It still cracks us up 20 years later.
“Either this post is dead or my watch has stopped.”