There’s something Japan’s favourite fermented foodstuffs have in common, and you may not have heard of it before.
Asian Inspirations is fighting the war against food waste. As we try to raise awareness about the huge amounts of food being tossed every year instead of finding hungry mouths to feed, you may see some articles and information (like this one) providing hints and tips on ways you can help reduce your food footprint.
Today we’re tackling leftover rice and how to make congee with it. Congee is basically just really overcooked rice, so the only difference using pre-cooked rice makes is halving the cooking time. Sounds like a benefit to me!
Even better, if you’ve got some left-over meat bones or chicken carcass, you can make a delicious broth to cook the congee in first. It’s the best way to get 2 dishes out of your leftovers!
When you’re making congee with cooked rice, it’s important to break up big lumps of rice. You want as many individual grains as you can get. Also remember, the fewer cups of broth or water you cook the rice in, the thicker it is. We suggest 6 cups for thick congee and keep adding until you get a consistency you’re happy with. It’s an incredibly low maintenance dish and will happily bubble away on the stove by itself while you clean up or watch TV. Just give it a stir every now and then to make sure it’s not sticking and it will be fine.
The other great thing about congee is you can chuck whatever you have lying around into it and it still tastes great. Any old veggies lying around the bottom of the fridge, left-over meat, chicken or fish, and it goes great with a heap of different condiments. There are hundreds of variations of congee, so don’t feel like you’re being inauthentic by adding sriracha or soy sauce or even (gasp!) hoisin. If you feel like a nutritious start to the day, feel free to throw in some honey, fruit and berries or even stir some yoghurt through.
The best way to think of congee is as a blank canvas. Start with a sketch and then add the detail as the inspiration comes. There’s no wrong answer, make it to your specifications and your taste and you’ll have something wonderful. And your friends will be super impressed that you’re making such a traditional dish at home! We’ve attached a couple of our favourite congee recipes to give you a place to start, but like all great recipes, they’re better when they make them fit you!