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
img_20190311_121251

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.