Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Congee with Century Egg (皮蛋瘦肉粥)

It seemed that every Sunday, without fail, my dad would make congee and we would eat that over a bowl of dumplings or noodles for brunch. The flavors varied; sometimes we would have leftover turkey for turkey congee (an unconventional creation of my dad's), fish congee (魚片粥), and my favorite congee with century egg (皮蛋瘦肉粥). That is probably the most common type of congee and easiest to make (right next to plain congee). I've always had fond memories of this food; it was like chicken noodle soup, good for the heart, good for the soul. The Chinese believe that a bowl of congee will help you cleanse your diet and rid minor illnesses.

This somehow fits into the category of strange Chinese dishes; many people who are unaccustomed to century egg find the sight of it repulsive. Understandable of course, century egg by itself gives off a pungent odor of sulfur and ammonia. When broken up and added into a plain-tasting pot of congee, however, it becomes soft and its flavor mellower. But since I grew up with the acquired taste for century egg, I find it hard to believe that people would find the food so repulsive. Either way, I think it's great and I'm glad I can eat it again. (I've been craving it for a while) Century egg acquired from home, as usual.

Plain Congee (粥)
yields: 1 pot
  • 1 cup rice
  • 9 cups water, might have to add more
  • salt and white pepper to taste (optional)
Bring rice and water to a boil. As soon as it boils, turn down the heat to a med-low heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Caution: It is very important to stir the bottom to make sure the congee does not burn! It will also burn if there is not enough water so check the consistency of the congee often to make sure it doesn't become too thick!
The congee is done when it becomes mien or soft. (You can't taste the individual grains of rice)

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