As some of you may know, I’ve been a little bit under the weather recently. And in those moments where I think the flu is going to get the better of me, I turn to some comfort eating!
For me, anyway, the best foods to have when I’m sick are semi-solids. I get the works in terms of the flu – burning lungs, solidly stuffed nose, pounding headaches – and eating (although always a priority) is not the most attractive thing.
So here is how I make my congee – a simple recipe that even the partner (who may not be the best in the kitchen!) can make.
Cooking time: 30 min (roughly)
1/2 Cup Raw Rice (long or short grain is fine. If you have broken rice, it’s better!)
Water (1L minimum)
1 tsp Sesame seed oil (optional)
Warm the sesame seed oil in a saucepan over medium heat (make sure that it’s big enough to accommodate the porridge!) and add the rice in. Once it’s fragrant and the rice starts to fry a little, start adding about 2 cups of the water.
Once the water starts boiling, stir the rice occasionally. For the rice to get to rice porridge stage, it first has to go through cooked-rice stage.
Once the rice grains have puffed up, add more water and reduce the heat to low. Simmer and stir occasionally till the porridge has become the consistency of oats.
You can have it a little more watery or a little thicker if you’d like, and it’s easy to add water to thin it out or cook it a little longer to thicken it.
And as with any sort of plain porridge, condiments are usually in order!
The first jar that I reach for is usually Olive Vegetables (橄榄菜）.
These salty black strands are a source of addiction for me. It has the common savoury taste of olives, and is quite oily. Use sparingly, as this is – as most rice porridge condiments are – incredibly salty. I would suggest, if you were going to get a bottle to try, trying a small amount on a teaspoon before you unload a whole lot into your bowl.
I also like Mushroom and Meat Sauce 香菇肉酱
Thick pieces of fatty-ish pork and mushroom sit in a slightly gelatinous chilli sauce. More people who haven’t grown up with congee tend to take to this particular condiment more easily than the Olive Vegetables. It is still on the salty side, and you can warm it before eating, if you’d like.
The two that I’ve mentioned are of course not the only condiments out there for congee, but it’s definitely the two that I always have around in the house. Some others include Salted Duck Egg with its luminescent yolk, and Fish with Salted Black Beans. These condiments are served like the Korean Banchan – many small plates dotting the table – and the more variety the better!
I hope that this helps widen the types of comfort food you can have when you’re sick (or not! I’d have congee any day, but more so when I’m sick)- I know that this often provides me with warmth and something really easy to eat.