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Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Now that the 3 day holidays is over, it's back to work again, though I believe there are a few lucky ones who are either taking leave or are still waiting for that auspicious date to start the first working day of the New Year.
While there are some people who are starving in some remote corner of the globe, those many of us who are lucky enough to celebrate Chinese New Year, all had too much to eat. So much that our fridge is still chock-a-block with left overs from the festive over indulgence - a twisted superstitious view literally mandates that there must be left overs - the one who does not have left overs during the New Year may end up suffering the fate of not having enough to eat, to spend , to survive - so God forbid that we should clean our plates at the dinner table!
Albeit all my festive meals were had at my family's place and restuarants, my own fridge is still packed - with left overs... from my mother's fridge! Sigh! I only hope I can recycle them fast enough before they turn bad.
First on the list is half a chicken. I decided to cook Gai Chok (Chicken Congee) prepared the Cantonese way to achieve a smooth, velvety glue like texture as oppose to the loose grainy version of the Teochew Porridge. Grainy or gruel like, plain or savoury, I like them all. In my opinion, this is the best comfort food there is. Light yet sustaining, warm and soothing, the porridge is the type of food we turn to when :
1. we are too sick to have an appetite to chew and digest;
2. feeding the very young and very old where a semi fluid food is most easily consumed;
3. in this case, the stomach still feels heavy from 4 consecutive days of festive binging.
There are a few school of thoughts when it comes to achieving the glue like consistency of the Cantonese congee. I have once seen a cooking program in Hong Kong where the cook/presenter demonstrated boiling the rice over huge quantity of water over very strong fire. What happens is the rice will split. By controlling the amount of water/liquid, the congee can become viscous in consistency. However, this method of cooking will not impart the velvety creaminess to the congee. To achieve that, typically, a combination of Jasmine rice (Thai fragrant rice) and glutinous rice is used.
I came across a third method in one of the Chinese cookbooks on my shelf. Written by the well published Mrs Leong Yi Soo, the book 温馨佳肴 (Singapore Well Loved Recipes) contains a recipe for Gai Chok that calls for the addition of glutinous rice powder to achieve the creamy, glue like consistency. It is this recipe that I tried today.
The texture,soft and smooth, slides down the throat effortlessly to gently coddle the hungry stomach into rested satisfaction.
Thai Rice 1cup (about 120g)
Water/ Chicken Stock 1.5litre with more hot water on standby
Glutinous Rice Flour 1 tbsp mixed with 100ml water and mixed well.
Chicken I used left over chicken. If start from scratch, cook about 800g in 2.8litres of water
seasoned with salt, pepper and 2 slices of ginger.
Fried Chinese Croutons (You Tiao)
Shredded Young Ginger
Spring Onions, diced
1. Chicken - shred cooked chicken meat and season with a little soya sauce and sesame oil.
2. Wash Rice and coat with a few drops of sesame oil.
3. In a heavy saucepan, add water, rice, pinch of salt, 2 slices of young ginger. Bring the water to boil. Once water starts to boil, reduce heat and boil the congee gently until rice starts to split and turns viscous. Add hot water or chicken stock if the mixture becomes to thick before the rice is cooked. Stir the congee at intervals to prevent the rice from sticking to the saucepan.
4. Once rice has split and turns viscous, add in the glutinous rice flour/ water mixture and stir continuously until the congee becomes a smooth creamy consistency. Add more hot water if the congee becomes too thick.
5. Ladle into serving bowl. Garnish with shredded chicken, shredded ginger, You Tiao and diced spring onion.