Ingredients

FOR THE CONGEE
½ cup (100g) jasmine rice, washed well in cold water and drained
½ teaspoon peanut oil
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
4 cups (1 litre) water
¼ cup (35g) roasted peanuts, roughly chopped, to serve
fried shallots, coriander leaves, gluten-free soy sauce
toasted sesame oil, to serve
FOR THE SHIITAKE STOCK
12 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 star anise
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon finely ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, bruised
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 cups water
FOR THE PICKLED RADISH
¼ cup (50g) unrefined raw sugar
¼ cup (60ml) rice wine vinegar
¼ cup (60ml) water
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 bunch (6-7) radishes
FOR THE SESAME SEAWEED
a little handful dried sea chicory, wakame or karengo fronds
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Congee (rice porridge) is found in many guises throughout Asia and from my observations within my own extended family (my husband is from Vietnam where they make chao) it’s something to be revered. It’s the first food many children are fed, it's what expats crave when they miss home and it's the food given to nourish the sick and elderly. You’ll want to start this recipe the day before, to soak the rice and make the stock. You can find fried shallots at Asian grocers, however I tend to just finely slice shallots and fry them in peanut oil until crisp. If you want to make this into a complete meal, I suggest adding some strips of crispy fried tofu or your favourite protein. I used sea chicory here, but you could use wakame or karengo fronds too.

Instructions

1.FOR THE SHIITAKE STOCK
2.Put the shiitake stock ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce to the lowest setting and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
3.Remove from the heat and strain, making sure you squeeze as much liquid as you can from the mushrooms.
4.You should have 1 cup stock; if not, add a little water to bring it up to 1 cup.
5.Cool and store in the fridge.
6.FOR THE CONGEE
7.Combine the rinsed rice, peanut oil, salt and water in a large saucepan, cover and set aside overnight.
8.The following day, add the shiitake stock to the rice/water.
9.Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, by which time the rice should have broken down to form a lovely creamy porridge.
10.FOR THE PICKLED RADISH
11.To prepare the pickled radish, combine the sugar, rice wine vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
12.Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat and setting aside to cool.
13.Trim the radishes, slice finely, then cut into thin matchsticks and place into a bowl.
14.Once the syrup has cooled, pour over the radishes, stir well and set aside for at least 30 minutes before straining and using.
15.These can also be done ahead of time and stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days (just be warned that the smell they create can be somewhat offensive!)
16.FOR THE SESAME SEAWEED
17.To prepare the seaweed, soak a small handful in warm water for 30 minutes, then drain well (it expands a lot, so best to go less than you think rather than more. I soaked about ⅓ of a 12g packet).
18.Drizzle with a little toasted sesame oil.
19.Either keep in large chunks or finely chop, depending on your preference (I finely chop mine).
20.TO SERVE
21.Divide the hot congee between four bowls, top each with a little drained pickled radish, some sesame seaweed, fried shallots, roasted peanuts and coriander leaves, then drizzle with a little soy sauce and a few drops of toasted sesame oil, to taste.

Recipes, food styling & photography Emma Galloway

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