About a month ago, I bought a duckling and, before cooking it as a stew, I cut off a leg and thigh and reserved them because Speedy intended to use them for a duck congee recipe that he saw in an Australian TV network website.
He cooked the congee, we had it for breakfast one Sunday morning and it was delicious. I had second thoughts about posting the recipe, however, because the photos that Speedy took distinctly showed all the mess in the kitchen in which the congee was prepared.
Then, last night, we were watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations shot recently in Thailand. And there was this segment with Bourdain eating congee for breakfast in a narrow alley with humble huts serving street food all over.
And Bourdain described congee so perfectly in the context of Asian culture — it is breakfast of the masses, it is a humble dish and a comfort food, it is not pretentious and it is right at home in an environment that does not concern itself with prettified visual presentations.
And I felt a little ashamed for thinking that there was something wrong with our congee photos.
No, there’s nothing wrong with them as they perfectly encapsulate the congee culture. It is about the flavors, the textures and the comfort that congee evokes, all of which I felt with every spoonful that Sunday morning.
You can easily do this dish with chicken but I suggest that you retain the shiitake mushrooms as they impart such wonderful flavors and textures to the congee experience.
- 1/2 c. of jasmine rice (rinsed and soaked for several hours in the fridge)
about 6 c. of duck (or chicken) broth
1 duck leg and thigh, roasted and meat shredded
3 to 4 shiitake mushrooms (if dried, soak in warm water for about 20 minutes), stems discarded and caps sliced thinly
a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 to 3 shallots, peeled and sliced
patis (fish sauce) or salt
about 1 tbsp. of soy sauce
2 to 3 tbsp. of vegetable cooking oil
2 finger chilis, sliced
- Cook the rice with the broth, garlic, some of the shallots and ginger until soft and mushy. Season with patis (or salt) and ground pepper. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching at the bottom of the pot.
While the rice cooks, heat the cooking oil. Fry the remaining shallots. Drain on paper towels.
In the remaining oil, fry the remaining ginger and mushrooms. Add the soy sauce.
To serve, ladle the congee in bowls. Top with the shredded duck, fried ginger and mushrooms, shallots and sliced chilis.
Cooking time (duration): 40 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 4
Meal type: lunch