Congee is a traditional Chinese food made of rice cooked for a very long time in either water or broth. It's a favorite comfort food eaten any time of day, and just like I might crave a bowl of chicken noodle soup when I'm sick, or during the winter when it's cold and I want something comforting, I might also crave congee.
There are many varieties of congee, and if you do some quick research, you'll find different styles within the cuisines of China, as well as in the cuisines of neighboring countries.
Personally, there are several kinds I love: the pork and preserved egg version my mom makes most often, and plain, salted, congee that I'll either top with commercially prepared dried/shredded pork or fish or eat alongside a Chinese fried dough stick. During the lean college/post college days, I've even really enjoyed a bowl of congee topped with canned tuna. Simple, delicious, and a small bowl of rice makes a whole pot of congee!
In the photo above is a delicious and more elegant summer congee. Very thin slices of marinated cod are added just after the congee is finished. Then to serve, each bowl is topped with lots of cilantro and ginger from the garden, and finally a drizzle of dark sesame oil. Often, my parents make this using fish we've caught from the pond just before lunch or dinner time. A hearty, easy and delicious summer meal doesn't get fresher.
*Cod and ginger congee recipe can be found in The Chinese Kitchen Garden book.
Cilantro is probably my favorite smell in the world. Yes, I could probably happily clutch this jar of cilantro to my side all day long. Cilantro is an easy to grow herb - though it generally does better during the cooler months. It's possible to keep sowing cilantro for use throughout the year, just find a spot that has some shade so it can stay lush and fresh during the hottest summer months. Right under the asparagus, where tall ferns tend to cast some shade, is the best spot in my garden. What are your tips for growing cilantro?
I'm Wendy Kiang-Spray, gardener, home cook, and author of The Chinese Kitchen Garden. Learn more about the book here. Enjoy the blog and be sure to like The Chinese Kitchen Garden Facebook page for notifications when there are new posts.