Comfort Food

Now that it’s cold (pity us Northern Californians – it’s been in the 30s at night and the 40s during the day – GAH!!), I find myself craving congee/jook (a Chinese rice porridge) a LOT. When I was younger, I only had the plain rice porridge with condiments such as pickled cucumbers, spicy bamboo slices, mien jing (some glutenous thing), to fu roo (some spicy soy paste), salted duck egg, thousand year old egg, and maybe some pork sung (dried pork bits and pieces).

Then, I discovered flavored congee – the kind you get in the middle of the night at a Hong Kong cafe. Mmmm… delish.

I mean, plain rice porridge is still delicious (especially when I’m feeling sick) and super easy to make. 1 cup rice to 3-4 cups water. Boil. (Or if you have a rice cooker with settings, follow those water levels.) However, now that I know how easy it is to make congee, WELL THEN. Why go back?

Thanks to the internet, I found a great recipe that I followed religiously the first time I made congee. Now, I just wing it and follow the recipe loosely. I’ve been making it once a week lately. It never gets old. Of course, you can also eat this congee with the condiments I mentioned before. It’s not like there are rules. Do whatever makes your stomach happy.

This week, I used turkey bones from Thanksgiving that I froze. But I have used Costco rotisserie chicken bones, too. I use cooking scissors and cut up the carcass and throw it in the pot. The key is ginger! Here are the things I add (that may or may not be in the recipe above). Most everything is to taste.

1) 2 quarts of chicken broth
2) water
3) kosher salt to taste
4) garlic powder
5) white pepper
6) sesame oil
7) ginger (a LOT but really to taste)
8) 2 cups of rice
9) bones (turkey/chicken/pork shortribs/whatever)
10) whatever else you want!

I basically just dump everything into a pot and boil on high for awhile then I lower the heat. (But if you want the fancy directions, the link is good for that.) It takes about an hour to get creamy. I don’t bother with removing the chicken and shredding and then putting it back into the pot as the recipe suggests. I leave it all in. If it gets more congealy because the rice has sucked out all the soup, just add some water and reboil.

Sometimes, if I’m really lazy and I get to the dregs of the congee and then I make a pot of soup with the “leftovers.” That is also delicious.

What are some of your go-to winter comfort foods?

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