easy recipe : chicken congee, quick and slow methods


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble  Psalm 46:1


brown rice & quinoa chicken congee

When the cold weather comes knocking,  we most always have some kind of broth based food for breakfast or lunch.  One popular breakfast (or late night snack) item we enjoy often is Cha'o or rice porridge or congee.  It can be made plain with just rice and water and topped with anything you like ! Or you can add to the water, chicken or pork or prawn or clam or beef or with root vegetables like carrots, radish and baby potatoes.  The variation is endless.

There are also many ways to make congee !  Here is my easy, quick method and the slow version !

If you noticed, I use fish sauce in most of my recipes.  I never use to like it before but since I started cooking more often, I develop a taste for it.  It some how rounded out the flavor.  It's not fishy like the name or smell.  It has a nice deep salty taste.  I use only 2 types:   Red Boat & Viet Huong 3 Crab brand.  Red Boat has a rich flavor and twice the price of Viet Huong.  Hence I use Red Boat only for raw dipping and Viet Huong for cooking.


Easy Quick Congee (yield about 4-6 rice bowl)

Cooking time: about 35 min.

Ingredients :
- 4 cups of low sodium organic chicken stock (no chicken stock? just use all water then :-)
- 1 chicken breast or 2 boneless thighs, cut into strips
- 3 cups of water
- 2 cups of cooked rice (or 1/2 cup of washed uncooked rice < this will take a bit longer to cook that's all.  Add another 15 - 20 min. to simmering time)
- 5 slices of ginger (sliced into thin strips) more or less or if you don't like to eat ginger but want the flavor, then smashed a chunk of ginger, size of knuckle, then remove when done.  You can add more or less ginger depend on liking
- ABOUT 2/3 tablespoon of good fish sauce OR 1 teaspoon of sea salt (there's salt in the stock already (depending on the brand, sodium % in chicken stock vary), so go easy on this OR wait til it's done and add fish sauce or salt as needed)

Garnish (optional):
- chopped green onions and cilantro
- fried scallion
- thinly sliced ginger

Put broth, water, rice and meat into a pot.  Bring to broil, and let broil uncovered at med-high for about 10 min.  Then bring down to med-low (on the lower side) to simmer for about 25 min (with lid half covered).  Stir every 7-8 min. so rice doesn't stick to bottom.  As different type of rice soak up more or less water, so if your congee looks too thick, add another cup of water to it.  If too thin, then cook longer.

Turn off stove, close lid and let stand for about 10 min.  Congee should have the consistency like oatmeal porridge. 

Scoop congee into a large bowl or divide into small single serving bowl and sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.

Add salt and pepper as needed.


Chicken Meat Substitution:
- instead of chicken, you can add any type of meat you like:  turkey, pork, beef, fish, etc.  Sliced or minced.  You can also use fish balls or shrimp balls (whole, halve, or coarsely chopped) !  they're quite good too !


IF you made plain congee, just rice and water, here are some topping suggestions you can add to eat with the plain congee:

grocery store rotisserie chicken - shredded
- bbq pork, chicken, or duck
- cooked eggs
- pork floss
- Vietnamese ham
- salted radish
- pan roasted peanuts
- fried chinese donuts


COOKING TIPS & SUGGESTIONS:

- If congee is too thick to your liking, thin it out by adding more broth or water.  If add more water, don't forget to season it again with fish sauce or salt.

- If you had one of those store bought roasted chicken for dinner, use the left over and the carcass to make a broth and use the broth to make congee.  You can also just cook the left over with rice and water to make congee just remember to remove all bones from the congee before consuming.

- Left over turkey from the holiday makes awesome congee !!!

- Don't be afraid to experiment with it !  Try using turkey leg, or pork side ribs instead of the chicken thighs.  Ground turkey, chicken, or pork is good too.  Precook the ground meat with a little oil and scallion.  Break them a part to small pieces then add them to the water and rice to cook.


HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES:

- use 2/3 rice and 1/3 quinoa
- use brown rice instead of white rice (brown rice takes a bit longer to cook)
- add in finely chopped carrots, baby potatoes and/or green peas
- use vegetable stock instead of meat stock


Slow Cook Congee (yield about 6 big bowl or 10-12 rice bowl)

Cooking time:  1 hour and 15 min.

Ingredients:
- 6 chicken thighs back attached, bone in, washed, skin removed, excess fat trimmed
- 11 cups of water
- 1 cup of uncooked rice, washed
- 10 slices of ginger (sliced thinly) more or less, depend on liking
- 2 tablespoons of good fish sauce or 3 teaspoon of sea salt (more or less)

Garnish (optional):
- chopped green onions and cilantro
- sautéed scallion
- thinly sliced ginger

Put chicken and water into a deep pot.  Bring to boil, skim off foam on top.  Let broil at med-high for 5 min then bring down to medium low and let cook for 30 min.  Remove chicken from broth and put aside to cool.

Add the washed rice to the broth, bring it up to boil then let it simmer on low for about 50 min.  Stir every 7-8 min. so the rice doesn't stick to bottom of pot.

Turn stove off then leave pot on stove.

Separate the chicken meat from bone.  Shred the meat into small pieces.  You can choose now to either leave them out to garnish on top of the congee or put them back into the pot.

Stir congee around then scoop into bowl.  If you left the shredded chicken out as topping, you can add them on top of the congee now.  Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro.  Add salt and pepper as needed.
Check out  Cooking Tips & Suggestions and Healthy Alternatives in the above section for other variations !