Prawn and ginger congee
Try this take on a traditional Asian porridge. You can make the congee with water alone, but chicken stock gives it more flavour. Substitute the prawns with duck, pork, crab, chicken, shredded vegetables - anything. I love a dollop of XO sauce or chilli sauce on my congee. You will need to soak the rice overnight before cooking.
Asian porridge: Congee is a bowl of comfort. Photo: William Meppem
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200g good-quality long-grain rice
3 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp vegetable oil, plus extra for shallow-frying
2 1/2 litres fresh chicken stock
1 large knob ginger, peeled and finely cut into julienne strips
350g cooked prawn meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp store-bought crispy fried shallots, finely sliced
2 tbsp roasted peanuts, lightly crushed
2 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced
1 small handful coriander leaves
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
soy sauce, to serve
WASH THE RICE using several changes of cold water. Put the rice in a large pot with 1 1/2 litres water, salt and 1/2 tsp oil. Leave to soak overnight at room temperature.
THE NEXT DAY, add the stock to the rice and bring to a boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for two hours, checking from time to time to ensure the rice isn't sticking to the base. Add a little more stock or water as needed to achieve your desired consistency. Some like congee quite thick, others prefer it runny.
PLACE SOME EXTRA OIL in a small frying pan on a high heat for shallow-frying the ginger. When the oil is shimmering, add the ginger and immediately reduce the heat. Move the ginger around in the oil to evenly fry it, removing from the oil when it begins to turn golden and crispy. Drain on some paper towel.
ADD THE FRIED GINGER into the congee and stir through. Add the prawn meat and stir through.
LADLE CONGEE into four large bowls. Garnish as desired using fried shallots, peanuts, spring onion and coriander. Serve at the table with a small dish of chilli and soy sauce for everyone to add as they need. Don't add the soy any earlier, as it will spoil the pearl-white look of the congee.
Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.