Congee with Minced Pork (瘦肉粥)
Happy 4th July! Hope some of you have days off this week so you will have the time to enjoy a real breakfast!
Breakfast is often labeled as the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast can help you start the day right by providing enough energy for you to get through the morning.
To many, a perfect breakfast is the classic two eggs any style, or the sinful but delicious sausage and cheese frittata, or the fluffy buttermilk pancakes, or the light and healthy fruit smoothie. To me, a perfect breakfast consists of a bowl of plain congee and one or two freshly steamed Chinese meat buns.
If you have never heard of congee before, it is rice porridge where the main ingredients are typically rice and water. In China, the existence of congee dates back to ancient china thousands of years ago. Besides being eaten as a meal, congee is also considered a medicinal food that can sooth the digestive system and enhance one’s metabolism. It also makes a perfect weight control diet.
In China, congees come in great range of variations by region. Despite the differences, congee is a comfort food to many Chinese and is consumed year round. Besides eating it as a breakfast, I also like to make pot of hot congee loaded with meats and vegetables. It is not just body warning but also soul comforting. In the summer time, eating congee is a perfect way to stay on a light diet and balance the metabolism and digestive system.
The congee recipe I am sharing today is considered a variation from Cantonese cuisine. The Cantonese congee is typically boiled for a longer time until the rice is broken apart and partially incorporated to the liquid to form a thick porridge. The addition of pork bone in making the basic congee adds a layer of savory flavor to the plain congee.
Before you cook the rice, you need to soak the rice in cold water for about an hour. This makes it easier to break down the rice grains.
While having the rice soaked, prepare a pot of boiling water and add pork bones to the water to make a pork stock.
Over high heat, add the soaked rice and sliced ginger to the stock. Stir the rice to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the stock pot. Boil the rice for another 10 minutes on high heat then simmer the congee over low heat. Stir the congee occasionally so it won’t stick to the bottom. Continue to simmer for about 1 to 2 hours until it forms a thick and creamy consistency. This is your basic congee.
The additional minced pork acts as a “topping” to the basic congee. Start preparing the pork by mixing the minced pork with all the pork ingredients except the water. Add water slowly to the pork while stir the minced pork with a spoon in the same direction. Stop adding the water when the pork becomes lighter and well incorporated with water.
Add the flavored pork to the basic congee. Bring the congee to boil. Make sure you stir the congee to prevent it from sticking. When the pork is cooked, add sliced ginger, salt, and white pepper to taste.
Lastly, add the sliced iceberg lettuce. Turn off the heat and garnish the congee with some chopped scallion.
What’s your favorite congee meal?