Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Chicken Congee When Appetites Wan

I know. Chicken congee or porridge is not exactly "soup" and thus, simply does not qualify as a post here. But, hear me out.

The weather in Penang can be intolerable. The heat is on. Literally. I sweat oodles and curse oodles too. The rainy season - where art thou? Sigh. While Kuching rains almost every other day, Penang is the complete opposite.

I just returned from a short trip to KL and KL is not as warm or muggy as Penang. In fact, I was caught in the rain twice for the 4 days that I was there. Maybe that's why I am feeling plain awful today.

Flu? Cold? Whatever it was, my body wasn't up for cooking. Not lunch. Not rice. Oh no. The warm weather makes one lose appetite (or perhaps I've eaten too much while in KL. I practically ate half a roasted duck... only to realise that my uric acid must have shot sky high. That's why I came home and guzzled some apple cider vinegar quickly.

Anyway, back to chicken congee. Congee is easy to digest and fast to cook, especially if you are not up to much cooking activity in the kitchen (who wants to slave over a hot stove)).It's comfort food. It's nutritious without being oily or heavy. Thus, perfect food for the young, the elderly and those feeling a bit out of sorts, like me.

You can cook this up in under an hour and all you need for 2 hearty servings of chicken congee are:

1 chicken thigh, skin removed (for once, I don't like oiliness in my food)
2 dried scallops, soaked in some water and roughly shredded
1 tablespoon of "tungchoi" (preserved vegetables), soaked and drained
1 cup of rice, washed and drained

The above ingredients go into your rice cooker. Add 4 times the water. This works out to about 4 inches of water above your rice. Close the lid and cook your congee as if you were cooking rice.

About 30 minutes later, slide the lid to the side so the bubbling recedes. Add salt, pepper, sugar and sesame oil. Stir well.

Remove the cooked chicken thigh and shred the meat into slivers. Return the shredded meat to the simmering congee (the grains of rice should be soft and mushy now). Switch off the electricity and let the congee "sit" for another 10 minutes to thicken slightly.

Scoop up and serve with soya sauce on the side.

(For soya sauce, I prefer Po Po Premium Quality Soya Sauce. Yes, it is pricier than usual soya sauce but the taste possesses much more depth! Cheap soya sauce is all salt and nothing else.)
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