28 September 2011

Congee Mk 4 - spiced pumpkin

Funny how sometimes you can throw together a few things in a saucepan whilst pottering around doing a bit of pollyfiller-ing and cleaning and suddenly there's sublime dinner waiting for you, silky and steaming on the kitchen table. After the mega faff of the partridge congee which wasn’t that great this version took about ten minutes of prep and maybe an hour and a quarter of quiet puttering on the hob. It’s the simplest congee I’ve made so far, and definitely the nicest.

The basic idea is to flavour the rice with sweet pumpkin or squash and then judiciously add minimal additions to bring it to its peak.

  • three small handfuls long grain rice
  • a butternut squash or equivalent slab of pumpkin
  • preserved vegetables
  • chilli oil, soy sauce, white pepper, cinnamon or cassia
  • a little bit of something green

Put your rice in a pot and add water. I think you need about five times as much as you would normally use to cook rice. Add a piece of cinnamon (which compliments the sweetness of the pumpkin incredibly). Simmer for forty minutes until the rice starts to break down.

Add the pumpkin or squash in cubes and continue cooking. Monitor water levels. After twenty minutes help mash down the pumpkin - the texture of the mixture should be silky and the grains of rice almost invisible as individual entities.

Add the preserved vegetables - I went for black fungus above and some Tianjin ones shown up top. Preserved vegetables are a god-send for Chinese food and you should keep some in the cupboard at all times.

Season with soy sauce for salt, then sesame oil, then lavishly dose with your favourite chilli oil.

deep, brindled gold flecked with red

It probably needs something green at this point to make it a bit more balanced so I added some peas to this after the picture was taken.

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