12 days of congee

Congee (or xifan) is my go to winter comfort food — it’s super easy and quick to make, and it’s highly versatile and customizable. So when the weather turned cold and I had the urge to make some, I thought it would be fun to riff on the toppings and see if I could come up with at least 12 different variations. Here are the results (and here’s the Twitter thread, if that’s more your speed):

The toppings, from left to right, top to bottom:

  1. Shitake mushrooms, thousand year egg, spicy fermented bean curd, furikake, sesame oil, and scallion (which covered EVERYTHING)
  2. a la Mulan: two fried eggs and bacon. But then I added a bunch of furikake. And then more fermented bean curd and scallions (not pictured) before eating.
  3. Vietnamese meatballs, shitake mushrooms, furikake (I was very much on a furikake kick.)
  4. Braised turnip greens, Italian sausage, katsuo fumi furikake (a different kind this time!), and scallions
  5. Sauteed purple cabbage, fermented bean curd, scallions
  6. Roasted kabocha squash, gochugaru, soy sauce, sesame oil
  7. Kimchi, thousand year egg, katsuo fumi furikake, scallions
  8. Chinese sausage with onions and collard greens, pickled radish, fermented bean curd, shiso fumi furikake (I bought so many varieties…)
  9. Not made by me, but a variation I had when visiting my mom in Houston. Congee made with red bean, black rice, and white rice, then topped with a little brown sugar. With a side of youtiao.
  10. So beige. Scallions, fried garlic, fried shallot, rousong.
  11. Ground pork and mustard greens, fried shallot, duo la jiao
  12. Scallions, fried garlic, a poached egg, and lao gan ma

Var 1 is pretty classic, and I really enjoyed 7, 8, and 9. The Mulan variation was fun to make, but difficult to eat. The roasted squash variation was the most different of the bunch (I have been very into roasted squash this season), and I think it looks the most interesting.

Main lesson? You can never have enough scallions. Or enough variations of furikake.

kimchi jjigae

I’ve had a craving for Korean food ever since the March issue of Bon Appetit showed up on my doorstep.

bon appetit march 2019 cover

NOMS.

So over the weekend, Adam and I rounded up the ingredients to make kimchi jjigae, a stew made with Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru) and red pepper paste (gochujang), and most importantly, kimchi. From what I understand, the make-up of this stew is flexible outside of the kimchi (it’s in the name after all).

I used the recipe by Sohui Kim from Bon Appetit as a base, and added a few more vegetables. The chili pepper flakes and paste aren’t overtly spicy, despite the glorious orange-red color of the stew. I also found that the kimchi I used was salty enough that I didn’t need any additional salt.

You can follow the link to get all the details. Here are the changes I made:

  • Increased all the amounts so that I would have lots of tasty leftovers
  • Added diced daikon and some baby bok choy
  • Added baby bella mushrooms —  next time, I would use shitake, which would hold its own a little more readily against the strong flavors in the stew, but I forgot to buy some
  • Used bacon, but I would use a thicker cut of pork belly or some pork shoulder in the future
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It’s not the prettiest stew ever, but it is forking* amazing.

The result was a bowl of warming, funky deliciousness that was perfect for a rainy weekend. And a cloudy Monday. And a chilly Tuesday. And… well, you get it.

*Adam and I are finally watching the Good Place.

a variation on pork adobo

The weather is finally going to get cooler this week. Maybe by this weekend, it’ll actually even feel like fall. And as we all know, fall is the season of comfort food and cookies. And decorative gourds.

One of the comfort foods that has worked its way into my regular rotation is pork adobo. It’s now one of A’s favorite meals.

Adobo is a Filipino cooking method in which meat or seafood is marinated and cooked in a vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. It sounds simple, but the result is complex and delicious. It’s tangy, rich, sweet, salty,  and a perfect food for when the weather is turning colder. It’s one of those things, like chili or mole or curry — every family (or even individual) has their own version. I like to add coconut milk for a creamy element.

You can use this recipe with chicken or beef or probably whatever you want. It’ll change the cooking times a bit, but the method is basically going to be the same.

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first virus of the season (also here’s some congee)

Hubs and I are both sick with some kind of plague. We are pretty sure where we got it from, but no one is here to point fingers (Kev). Sore throats, phlegm, coughing. It’s pretty miserable. On the bright side, he’s been working from home so we’ve been able to spend a lot of time together.

Whenever I’m sick, I crave the comfort foods of my childhood. (Well, whenever anyone is sick, they crave the comfort foods of their childhood, I suppose. Though I’m talking about my specific case, so… Anyway.) For me, this means some kind of brothy noodle soup, wontons, and/or congee. Since Adam is still on a liquid/pureed diet, that means it’s CONGEE TIME.

Congee is a rice porridge that is pretty ubiquitous in Asian countries. In China, it’s frequently a breakfast food, served alongside fried dough sticks (youtiao) or with an array of toppings so you can choose your own adventure. Possibly you’ve seen it at dim sum restaurants making the rounds. It’s not that different from grits or cream of wheat or oatmeal, although congee classically skews savory rather than sweet.

Recipe below the cut.

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