Fig. 1 Chinese Chicken Congee with a little twist served in a ceramic pot bought in Kyoto, Japan
In Hong Kong, my mom and dad make the best congees (rice porridges), we have it very often at home and always served with stirred fried noodles.
Chicken congee is my all time favorite. This is a very nice comfort food especially after having too much alcohol or if you are not feeling too well. A lot people always said the chickens in Western countries are not tasty enough but today I could proof this is wrong. I bought this French Free Range Chicken, it has yellow skin like the chicken we have in Hong Kong, the white skin ones I admit that they are not so tasty. This time, shortly after boiling for roughly 30 mins, I could tell this congee would be much better than the ones I made before. The chicken flavor was coming out so quickly that I could just tell by the smell it came out. Just finished a big bowl and it triggered me to blog it immediately.
Fig. 2 Commonly used Dried Ingredients in Chinese Cooking: Dried Mushrooms, Dried Scallops and Dried red dates (Jujube); as seen in #8072 foodgawker, 28.10.08
This time I was inspired to infuse some Korean cuisine elements into this congee by adding a few red dates (jujube) and garlic which they are used in preparing the Ginseng Chicken Soup (Sam Gae Tang in Korean). Chinese also use red dates a lot in soup but not in congee. I was curious of how it would taste and the result came out just nice and the ingredients blended very well to each other without anything being overpowered.
- Half fresh chicken (normal size), best used yellow-skinned chicken
- 1 small cup long grain rice
- 6-8 dried red dates stoned (Fig. 2)
- 2 dried scallops (Fig. 2)
- 6 dried chinese mushrooms (Fig. 2)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small piece of peeled ginger, about 2cm x 2cm
- approx. 1500 ml water
- Japanese tea filter sachets x2 (optional) (Please click to see image in my other post)
- In separate small bowls, hydrate the red dates, dried scallops and dried mushrooms by soaking in hot water for about an hour.
- Using a sharp knife, remove the skin and trim off the fatty tissue from the chicken except for the chicken wing.
- Wash the rice and put into a large pan
- When the dried ingredients are hydrated, discard the water.
- Place the dried scallops into a teabag. The reason why I did this is because I find dried scallops will break into small pieces while cooking, they usually sink to the bottom of the pan, and may stick to the bottom making the congee get burned more easily. I find the Japanese teabags are very useful and served more than one purpose for making tea. You can use any filter cotton bag of course.
- Cut the hydrated mushrooms into slices.
- Also place the 2 cloves garlic in another teabag, as I want to keep them in whole piece when cooked.
- Place the chicken into the pan, followed by all other ingredients. Pour in the cold water and bring it to boil in high heat for 10 mins (Fig. 3).
- Skim off any scum (the foam and fat) that rises to the surface of the liquid using a big flat spoon*. This step is important to ensure you get nice clear broth for the congee.
- Then turn into medium heat and let it cook for about 1 hour and 30 mins. Stir from time to time to avoid sticking at the bottom.
- When the congee is cooked**, take the chicken out and remove the bones, then put the chicken pieces back into the pan. You can decide how big pieces of the meat you like. Take out the garlic and dried scallops, put aside and allocate to the bowls when serving.
- Season the congee with some salt and serve immediately when hot.
Fig. 3 Chicken Congee with ingredients added, this is how it looked after cooking for the first 30 mins
*An alternative method to step 7 is to briefly cook the meat in a separate pan of boiling water, in Chinese terms it’s literally translated as “fly with water” 飛水. Let it boil for 5-10 mins, you will find the scum coming out, discard the liquid and tranfer the chicken back to the cooking pan. This method is particularly useful when you use meat that has been kept in the freezer. Somehow frozen meat tends to produce more scum I find. As I described above, this step or skimming is important to give you a nice clear liquid in whatever dishes you cook.
**Do NOT overcook. You have to turn off the heat when the congee is cooked, it will get burned easily if overcooked. Of course you can reheat, what I mean is not to keep it boiling for excessive time once it’s cooked.
I personally like having food served very hot so I have used my favorite ceramic pot which I bought in Kyoto, Japan (Fig. 1). I like this pot very much as it can be used on both electric stove or gas stove, it’s worth carrying all the way back. I transferred a portion to the pot, brought it to boil and served.
Hope you enjoy this norishing congee!