Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Healing Power of Congee

Many of you know that my dear mother-in-law is not well.

I have been bringing her food in hopes of keeping her energy and spirits up. When she got home from the hospital a month ago, I suggested that she try congee. Congee is a rice-based dish that looks somewhat like a thick, white soup. There is a very good congee place right near her house, but my MIL is allergic to gluten and was terrified that unidentified ingredients (mainly soy and fish sauce) would contaminate the good-for-her rice dish.

So I made and bought over a big pot of congee. Spiked with her gluten-free soy sauce (anyone know where you can get gluten-free fish sauce?) it was a soothing, easy-to-digest meal. She kept taking about how it was the only thing she has eaten this month that didn’t make her feel awful.

Just imagine that for one moment….eating usually brings joy or at least satisfaction. Imagine it bringing pain….

After a painful procedure the other day that left her feeling particularly weak, I made another huge pot. I made the stock particularly rich with tons of ginger, garlic, onions, carrots and a mixture of chicken & fatty pork bones.

Congee is one of those things that you can add in whatever you fancy. I like to spike it with chilli oil, cilantro leaves and a few raw peanuts, but that's just me.

Here is my basic congee recipe that I made for Hennie: add additional stock or water if it gets too thick for your liking.

10 cups stock
1 1/2 cups glutinous rice (don’t worry it is not that kind of gluten- it means it's sticky)
1/2 lb pork tenderloin
1 acorn squash, cut in half and cooked in the microwave until tender
3 cups baby bok choy or spinach, chopped
1/4 cup chopped chives
Fish and soy sauce to season

1. Bring stock to a boil. Add rice and stir. Bring back to boil then simmer. Simmer for 1/2 hour or until rice is very tender and the rice is splitting.
2. Slice pork into thin slices then again into slivers. Add to pot. Simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Scoop out baked squash and add to pot then stir in boy choy and chives.4. Taste and add fish and soy sauce or salt.


Chantal said...

I have never heard of it. But it definitely sounds like one of those "stick to your bones" kind of meals. If it makes your mother in law feel better then I am definitely giving it a try.

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