RECIPE: BLACK RICE CONGEE (over charcoal)
July 10, 2018
End of last year, I posted a recipe for Thai rice soup (khao tom) and referred to rice congee, a thick soupy rice porridge, originally from China.
Well, Thai love congee too. It's called jook (โจ๊ก) and can be found at every morning market. Some family-owned neighbourhood restaurants are specialised and only serve congee while your hostel or hotel undoubtedly will have it on the menu for breakfast.
Congee traditionally comes with white rice and pork meatballs. However, if you substitute with brown, red or black rice, this soup turns into a delicious, healthy whole grain recipe, a true power dish to start the day ( whether you leave out meatballs and eggs, is up to you).
Maybe the best part, you can flavour your bowl of congee with condiments and toppings like fried onion, sliced ginger, cilantro and soy sauce.
I love to slow-cook this rice porridge a day ahead, have it simmered over an outdoors charcoal fire just behind our kitchen. Cook over charcoal is less common in Chiang Mai today and those who still do, are our favourite places to go and eat. To have a pad Thai prepared over charcoal, we don't mind driving half an hour, crossing the city to the other side.
Note that congee easily keeps good in the fridge for 3-4 days.
We love to stew over charcoal (at the back of our house).
2.5l water (vegetable or chicken broth if available)
3 thumb-sized gingers, julienned
1 carrot, julienned and steamed
1/2 cup green onion, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tbs pepper
1 soft boiled egg per serving (optional)
soy sauce (condiment)
Cook the soup first.
Bring 2l of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Reduce to low heat.
Add rice, salt and pepper. Stir vigourously.
Maintain a gentle simmer for 45-50 minutes (closed lid; about 1 hr if over charcoal), so the grains can absorb lots of water. You sort of overcook, until the rice bursts open, to get that characteristic, juicy, thick, fat texture.
Turn off the heat.
Then make congee.
Place the soup in a blender, add the rest of the water. Blend until the rice is smooth. This is the moment where the rice soup becomes congee, with an overall thick texture. Add more water if you want the congee to be more liquid).
Add the mixture into a pot, heat up for a few minutes while stirring. Again, you can play and see where you want to go with texture, the more water, the less thick will the rice texture be.
Cool down the soup.
Add congee in a Cafe au Lait bowl, add soy sauce, perhaps an egg, top with ginger, carrot, green onion, you name it!