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Congee - sounds bad; tastes great
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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:39 am    Post subject: Congee - sounds bad; tastes great Reply with quote

Originally posted by MEF on Aug 11, 04 - 12:26 PM

When I first read about the Chinese breakfast dish called congee, my first reaction was "Who needs rice gruel?". This was before I tried it. Congee is prepared with a very small amount of rice compared to the liquid (say 1:8). It is also cooked for about 45 min. or so. I used chicken stock with some jasmine rice and some ginger, chiles, and garlic at cooked it until it turned into a thick soup. It's great! I can see why 1 billion people turn to this for their hot morning wakeup!


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:40 am    Post subject: Re: Congee - sounds bad; tastes great Reply with quote

Originally posted by CAM on Aug 11, 04 - 1:41 PM

Yes, congee is delicious -- like a rice porridge, and just the thing in the morning. I think it may be much like "chicken soup" -- good for what ails you. I first tried it when I was speaking at a conference in Thailand. I was very jetlagged and had butterflies in my stomach but knew I needed to eat something. I tried a mouthful of the congee. So soothing. I ate the whole bowl. Now I often prefer congee for breakfast when I'm in Asia. At the time of serving there are usually lots of extras to put in it when it's in a buffet, e.g. fish sauce, soy sauce, green onions, little dried fish, etc. I made it for some Korean billets -- made a huge pot that lasted the several days they were at our house. They always asked for seconds. I can't remember for sure, but I think they put kim chee in theirs.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:40 am    Post subject: Re: Congee - sounds bad; tastes great Reply with quote

Originally posted by llizard on Aug 11, 04 - 6:35 PM

I always thought that congee sounded like the ultimate comfort food. Strangely enough, I've never had it.... I adore comfort food, or as one of the translations for a text in my French lessons said:

"I adore stodgy dishes"

----------
Hmmmm, can I remember the French phrase?? It might have been:

"J'adore les plats consistants"


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:42 am    Post subject: Re: Congee - sounds bad; tastes great Reply with quote

Originally posted by J Michael on Aug 13, 04 - 2:05 AM

A little more on congee...it can be eaten almost any time of day and particulary easy on the tummy when one is sick or feeling under the weather. Although, when one is sick, we tend to eat it as plain as ever, that means just the rice cooked with water and a little salt or some preserved lime pickle and that seems to clear up alot of tummy problems.

Then there's congee prepared with minced/sliced pork, minced/sliced beef, fish (dory), combination of pork and century egg, dried cuttlefish and the list goes on. When I was growing up, grandmother would prepare a congee even with sweet potato, and the whole family would have that for lunch every Saturday. Though, I have not kept that part of tradition with my family, there are others here that still do, simply amazing. Depending on what meats are used, leafy vegeables, like chinese spinach, carrots can be added also.

I guess, after eating a whole lot of stuff Mon to Fri, grandmother would cook sweet potato congee as a detox of sorts and what's worse, I remember also the monthly "tablespoon of castor oil", for us kids, around 1961 to 1964 or so. Good memories, congee! and thanks!


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:42 am    Post subject: Description of congee reminds me of kedgeree Reply with quote

originally posted by llizard on Aug 13, 04 - 9:12 AM

Congee sounds somewhat similar to kedgeree (and all the various spellings) that is served in India. I gather that it is used for the same purpose as congee. I absolutely love it when I'm feeling just a little under the weather. Actually, I simply love it just about any time.

I have only seen it being prepared so don't know the exact proportions. Googling produces some rather complex recipes for kedgeree - one involving nuts, mushrooms(!), peas, sour cream (!!), peas, parsley. The kitcheree that we have is simply longgrain rice, water, dahl (yellow lentils), potatoes, caramelized onions, garlic, cumin seeds, turmeric, salt, and maybe a blackened dried cayenne chili. It's wonderful with a little mango or lime pickle - Mr. Patak's is our favourite brand.

J Michael, I like your grandmother's idea of using sweet potato. I think a few pieces of sweet potato would be great addition to our kicheree too.

I never had castor oil but I was given cod liver oil when I was a very small child. My recollection was that it was in a dessert spoon (but it probably was a teaspoon). I can still conjure up the looming huge spoon and the horrible taste that resulted. In fact, it's so vivid that I'm feeling a bit carsick. I think maybe I need someone to make me some kitcheree.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:43 am    Post subject: Kedgeree and Khichari vs. Congee Reply with quote

Originally posted by MEF on Aug 13, 04 - 12:25 PM

I think that both the Anglo-Indian Kedgeree and the Indian Khichari differ from the Asian Congee in a fundamental way - the latter in simply 1 unit of glutinous rice with 8 units of liquid cooked for 3/4 hr. whereas the former involve many more steps and ingredients. Not that there is anything wrong with elaborate dishes, it's just that the brillance on Congee is it's utter simplicity.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:44 am    Post subject: Re: Kedgeree and Khichari vs. Congee Reply with quote

Originally posted by J Michael on Aug 13, 04 - 8:20 PM

Just a little more on congee, as we are a multi-cultural island, all the 4 ethnic groups and a few other groups like the Sikhs and others, have their very own unique style of the humble Congee, depending on what ingredients. It is also an introduction to solid foor for most Chinese babies.

The simplest is the Chinese Congee which is prepared by bringing the raw rice (usually broken rice or short-grain) and water/chicken stock to a boil and then simmering it for some time till the rice grains are broken up to a soft consistency (like oatmeal) then adding the other ingredients till fully cooked and then garnished with the sauces, a little sesame oil, ground white pepper and coriander leaves, sliced fried shallots. Even the elderly enjoy a bowl!

The ingredients and combination are endless, given that we are a multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-religious people and there are some restrictions for some of us but yes, the Congee is utter simplicity, a mild dish and easily digested.

The Kedgeree that grandmother prepared was a dish of rice and flaked cooked fish.

Indian Khitchari, rice dish of mung beans and long grain brown rice, with spices of turmeric, cumin, chilli powder, cinnamon, among others.

Hope this helps in any way.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:45 am    Post subject: Re: Description of congee reminds me of kedgeree Reply with quote

originally posted by J Michael on Aug 13, 04 - 9:08 PM

Here in Singapore, it is a BIG difference. There are food shops every where. Evrey shopping centre has a Food Court and you're bound to have one or two kiosks selling Congee (the Chinese style). As the majority of population is Chinese, there are alot of kiosks or stalls selling Chinese food, with a few stalls selling the other ethnic food.

Aahhh... Castor oil... it was a must as mentioned earlier. That was taken to clear our body sytem. One spoonful of that with a little preserved sour plum (looks like a prune, but salty and sour)and in half an hour, I'd be going to the toilet! I personally have lots to thank Grandma for as I was the eldest of three grandchildren at the time that was living in the same house as Grandma. The other lived some distance away. I picked up learning how to use the sewing machine and sew by age 9 and type (from my aunt) by age 11. I remember the time when in Primary 5,the teacher refused to accept the housecoat that I had stitched as she thought that my aunt did it! And again in Secondary 1 (age 13), took up book-keeping studies, another teacher asked me if that was the first lesson in typewriting in school (which was) and then had to explain that I had been at it at home, since age 9. That got me on to a secretarial career and now, a full-time home-maker, the last 6 years.

I also remember, feeding the fish in the tank with bits of the white parts of a french loaf of bread, simply because I saw them all feeding fish with bread and often overhead them ask each other if the fish were fed. Ralized it was fish bread they were referring to and by that time.... fish were swimming on its side...as I did not know they were dying and some dead! One of the many lessons learned!

Thanks for letting me share some thoughts and memories and hope the little info on Congee/Kedgeree/Khitchari is of any help.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:46 am    Post subject: Re: Cod liver oil and awful memories of breakfast Reply with quote

originally posted by CAM on Aug 14, 04 - 2:24 PM

I was given cod liver oil as a child, too, which strangely I got used to. I didn't mind it. I remember a teaspoon, not a tablespoon. But I think we switched to some not-so-good tasting vitamin capsules sometime in the 1960s.

In the 1950s my mother was very concerned about breakfast and insisted on our having oatmeal porridge or an egg. Eugh... soft-boiled eggs... horrible. Or the only-slightly-less horrible eggnog -- raw egg mixed up with milk and chocolate powder (oh dear, I think that memory has been visited previously by some members of the forum who appear to have had similar experiences.) The oatmeal porridge served with brown sugar and milk was sometimes very good and sometimes horribly gelatinous and not very hot.

When my kids were little there were a few things they liked, and I would tend to alternate between cooking pancakes (with an egg mixed into the batter) or french toast. They are both young adult students now, and still live fairly happily at home because we try not to bug them much. My daughter likes to eat yogurt and fruit and my son carefully cooks a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs over toasted bagels , or scrambled eggs with hash-browns, both with hot Asian chilli sauce. I will ask them if they've tried congee. To fend off the purist healthy food supervisors who may be lurking and waiting to pounce, I will write another post.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:47 am    Post subject: P.S. to any lurking food purists Reply with quote

originally posted by CAM on Aug 14, 04 - 2:39 PM

Food purist lurkers, please don't lecture me about the high fat and sugar content of the breakfasts I served my kids. Sometimes as a parent I confess I made tradeoffs between outright rebellion and offering things that were popular and at least nourishing. They would consent to drink a small amount of applejuice for breakfast, but no other juice. I did try. And raw (or any) vegetables did not go over well. I did try dressing them up with raisin faces, peanut butter, ground up very finely in tomato sauce (over pasta) etc. -- but my kids were not so stupid or easily duped. They seemed to be able to sniff out and reject dreaded vegetables in any disguise. Even bribes didn't work, and I don't believe in torturing kids. So I decided not to worry and to offer things that were popular and leave them alone -- they seemed to be thriving on a diet that would freak out any nutritionist. I now find that the kids voluntarily like the vegetables, salads, interesting stir-fries, etc etc. that were offered but not forced on them when they were kids. And they are both slim, disgustingly healthy, and fairly conscious about nutrition and try to be discerning about food fads of all kinds. I think the best thing I did was to realize that the nursery rhyme contained good advice: "Leave them alone and they'll come home..." As kids grow up, I've also realized that for good and for ill, the dictum is true that values (food values and all kinds of values) are "caught not taught." The latter is really sobering!


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:47 am    Post subject: P.S. to any lurking food purists Reply with quote

originally posted by CAM on Aug 14, 04 - 2:39 PM

Food purist lurkers, please don't lecture me about the high fat and sugar content of the breakfasts I served my kids. Sometimes as a parent I confess I made tradeoffs between outright rebellion and offering things that were popular and at least nourishing. They would consent to drink a small amount of applejuice for breakfast, but no other juice. I did try. And raw (or any) vegetables did not go over well. I did try dressing them up with raisin faces, peanut butter, ground up very finely in tomato sauce (over pasta) etc. -- but my kids were not so stupid or easily duped. They seemed to be able to sniff out and reject dreaded vegetables in any disguise. Even bribes didn't work, and I don't believe in torturing kids. So I decided not to worry and to offer things that were popular and leave them alone -- they seemed to be thriving on a diet that would freak out any nutritionist. I now find that the kids voluntarily like the vegetables, salads, interesting stir-fries, etc etc. that were offered but not forced on them when they were kids. And they are both slim, disgustingly healthy, and fairly conscious about nutrition and try to be discerning about food fads of all kinds. I think the best thing I did was to realize that the nursery rhyme contained good advice: "Leave them alone and they'll come home..." As kids grow up, I've also realized that for good and for ill, the dictum is true that values (food values and all kinds of values) are "caught not taught." The latter is really sobering!


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:48 am    Post subject: Re: children and food Reply with quote

originally posted by MrsBrown on Aug 17, 04 - 8:00 PM

When my son was very small and just learning to eat, I read a wonderful book called "How to get your kids to eat...but not too much". The author, whose name escapes me, said that parents are responsible for what, where and when children eat and the children are responsible for how much. She reminded us that zero is an amount. I paid attention to that maxim and put healthy food on the table. If he was hungry, he ate it; if he wasn't particularly hungry, he would only eat what he liked. There was no pressure (okay, occasionally, there was a little pressure from MrBrown which ALWAYS backfired). Now, at 10, he is a very healthy eater who will eat many things unheard of by his friends. He professes to hate vegetables but I recall a dinner conversation last year where, as he was scoffing down some wonderful baked squash (something I would NEVER have eaten as a child), he said, "is this heart-of-gold squash or festival?" Upon finding out it was indeed heart-of-gold squash, he remarked that he preferred it to festival although festival squash was good too.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:48 am    Post subject: Re: children and food Reply with quote

originally posted by MrsBrown on Aug 17, 04 - 8:00 PM

When my son was very small and just learning to eat, I read a wonderful book called "How to get your kids to eat...but not too much". The author, whose name escapes me, said that parents are responsible for what, where and when children eat and the children are responsible for how much. She reminded us that zero is an amount. I paid attention to that maxim and put healthy food on the table. If he was hungry, he ate it; if he wasn't particularly hungry, he would only eat what he liked. There was no pressure (okay, occasionally, there was a little pressure from MrBrown which ALWAYS backfired). Now, at 10, he is a very healthy eater who will eat many things unheard of by his friends. He professes to hate vegetables but I recall a dinner conversation last year where, as he was scoffing down some wonderful baked squash (something I would NEVER have eaten as a child), he said, "is this heart-of-gold squash or festival?" Upon finding out it was indeed heart-of-gold squash, he remarked that he preferred it to festival although festival squash was good too.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:49 am    Post subject: Re: Re: children and food -- well done Mrs. Brown! Reply with quote

Originally posted by CAM on Aug 17, 04 - 9:21 PM


I wish I'd had that book.


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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2004 9:51 am    Post subject: Re: well done Mrs. Brown! Thank you CAM Reply with quote

originally posted by MrsBrown on Aug 17, 04 - 10:47 PM

but where is the book that's called "How to get your kid to keep his room tidy for more than an hour...and keep it that way"?


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