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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chicken Congee - Working With CNY Left Overs...

Gai Chok 6

Gai Chok 8

Gai Chok4

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.

Gai Chok 7
The texture,soft and smooth, slides down the throat effortlessly to gently coddle the hungry stomach into rested satisfaction.

Recipe :

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.
Sesame Oil
Fried Chinese Croutons (You Tiao)
Shredded Young Ginger
Spring Onions, diced

Method :
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.


Zurin said...

that does not look like left overs!!! gorgeous ~ ^-^

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Perfect! And beautifully gluey too. :) If I didn't eat so much over CNY, I would love to have some century egg with that congee. ;)

Allie said...

The porridge looks delicious! So yummyyyy

La Table De Nana said...

Especially presented that way~
I am like you..every holiday..I think we have so much..some so little.. I try and cut back.:)And then share a bit more.

Angie's Recipes said...

That doesn't look like leftover...if it's, then please give me leftover everyday!

Irene's Footprints said...

The porridge looks nice and smooth...u are good at clearing the fridge.

I like this!

WendyinKK said...

I love to bake my 'youtiao' slices before adding them to my congees :) The crunchiness adds a great dimension to the soft congee and it smells a lot better too.
Baked ones can keep for few weeks for ur next and next meal of congee.

What I usually do to achieve velvety smooth congee is to cook my Thai fragrant rice in lots of water (1:8, u can add more water in the 2nd stage of cooking) until it splits and turn off the heat. Leave it in the pot for a few hours. Then when I want to eat it, I stir the congee, of which at this point the rice granules will disintegrate into a fine texture, and bring it back to boil on high heat until it reaches the texture or viscosity prefered. Do not use low heat for this stage if not the congee with not be gooey. Only season when congee has come to a full boil.
I always do the first part of cooking just before I sleep to have nice smooth porridge in the morning.

Not Quite Nigella said...

You have the perfect texture for congee! It looks amazingly comforting :) And great minds think alike! I made congee last night (to ward off a coming cold).

Anonymous said...

I love the way you write =) And that congee looks terrific! I've never even heard of glutinous rice flour! Can you buy that at any old supermarket?

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I only just discovered your blog and I LOVE it. LOVE the way you write! And of course all the food looks amazing =)

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Thank you mrsmultitasker. It is always flattering and nice to have someone like my blog.. and my writing :) Thank you and hope to have you around again.

Anonymous said...

Chicken congee is such a great comfort food! Thank you for the recipe - I didn't realize that there were different methods - am glad I stopped by your blog today and read this - otherwise, I would have spent my life making congee the wrong way!

Anonymous said...

After all that New Year gluttony, this congee looks just like what I need - with lots of ginger. Can I make this in a rice cooker?

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Hello Hungryc, you can always cook porridge in a rice cooker but the texture will not be the same if you cook it over fire in a pot. Reason being, there is no way to play with the degree of heating. When I tried cooking congee in a rice cooker, they always end up like Kuey...:( maybe my rice cooker is too small, hence I couldn't put enough water. What you really need is alot of water.Wendy above, has recommended 1:8.

lishapisa said...

I love your blog! and Chicken Congee!
We like to cook hte chicken along with the rice so it flavors it at the same time. so gooood and the best comfort food ever!
CookNg Sisters

Ren said...

Congee always make me feel better when I feel not well. I like congee with pork and egg.


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