Monkfish Rice Porridge (Congee)
Posted August 5, 2010on:
In America, chicken noodle soup is a timeless classic. It’s the perfect comfort food when one’s under the weather or having a bad day. However, when I think about comfort food, the first thing that comes to mind is rice porridge. If you have never had it before, it is essentially over-boiled rice. One would cook rice with lots of water for 30 minutes or longer so that the rice breaks down and creates a creamy starchy mixture. Consistency and texture varies; some like them thick and some like them a little soupy. In my opinion, the best porridge is right in the middle. It has to be smooth but you must be able to taste the rice as well. I find that if the rice has completely broken down, it is going to taste like a mush.
Typically, rice porridge is rather plain and lightly salted in its most basic form. That makes it the perfect canvas for the best ingredients – scallops, seaweed, dried mustard greens, century egg, pork, chicken, you name it. The possibility is endless. If you use the best and freshest ingredients, I guarantee that rice porridge provides a wonderful contrast to highlight those flavors. My favorite of all is fish porridge. I once had the best fish porridge from a street vendor in Kuala Lumpur, made with the freshest fish slices, topped with green (spring) onions, young ginger, and optionally fried pork intestines for that extra crunch. I promise, the intestines are not as bad as it sounds. =)
I recreated the fish porridge for dinner, this time with crispy tofu and it was still delicious. White fish is preferable and if you could slice your fish very very thinly, go ahead and put them at the bottom of your bowl. When you pour hot boiling porridge over it, let it sit for a couple of minutes and the fish will be cooked perfectly. If you cannot get them thin enough, cook them in the pot with the porridge for about 5 minutes. Garnish with toppings and serve. The ginger and green onions give a hint of freshness that complement the fish very well. It’s simply a classic combination when making fish porridge. Here’s how you make it my mom’s way:
- 1 cup long grain rice
- About 9-10 cups water
- 0.5 lb monk fish filet, sliced thinly
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 thumb-size ginger (as young as possible), julienned
- fried tofu pouch, sliced
- white pepper
- sesame oil
- In a large pot, cook rice with water until boiling. Lower the heat to medium and let it simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
- While the rice is simmering, marinade the fish with salt, pepper, sesame oil, few juliennes of ginger, and a sprinkle of green onion.
- The porridge will look very watery – it’s OK. Turn off the heat and let it sit with the cover on for about 30 minutes.
- While waiting, bake the tofu until crispy and golden brown in an oven at 400 F – about 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat back on, uncover and let it boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for another 20 minutes or until the it reaches the desired consistency. Add more water if needed.
- Add the fish to the porridge and cook for 5 minutes until the fish looks opaque. Season the porridge with salt.
- Serve porridge in a bowl and garnish with more green onions and ginger. Finish with a dash of white pepper and a drizzle of sesame oil.
- You may cook the porridge without letting it sit but I didn’t like the texture as much. Rice seems to breakdown a lot more without the pause.