Cantonese Congee with Stir Fried Chicken ( 广东粥)

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Congee or Chook (粥) is a popular rice porridge in South East Asia which can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. Although, widely available across many South East Asian countries, I much prefer the creamy and tasty Macau and Hong Kong version of this popular dish. In Macau and Hong Kong congee is often serve with either beef, chicken, pork, fish or Chinese sausage, along with an accompanying century egg or fried dough stick. Although, congee can be eaten plain by itself too.

Congee is served in many cha chaan teng or tea restaurants in Macau and in Hong Kong. It’s a popular, cheap and comforting dish and is the Chinese equivalent of the Jewish penicillin known as ‘Chicken soup for the soul’. Many Chinese doctor’s recommend this dish to those who are ill, my Mom use to make or buy this dish for me too every time I was ill. Even now in my adult life whenever I feel ill there is nothing else that I’d like to eat than a humble Congee to make me feel warm and better. This heart-warming dish, though simple, is actually not easy to find in Chinese or Asian restaurants in the U.K. or the U.S. and in those that do serves it I would say that the taste is bland. I’ve yet to find a restaurant in the U.K. and U.S. that serves really good Congee packed full of flavour.

The last time I was very ill, I had just got out of the hospital and I craved so badly for a congee so I went to London’s Chinatown and bought takeaway congee. My heart sank as it tasted so bland. Since then I have been on a mission to create a congee recipe that’s as creamy and as packed with flavour as the congee found in Macau and Hong Kong. I’ve come up with two basic chicken congee recipes and this is one of them. I hope you enjoy this recipe, which is my take on a Cantonese Congee. I hope that if you feel ill and have this it will give you strength and a warm comforting feeling and make you feel better. Bon appetite!

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients:

Chicken Marinade:
1. 1/2 inch of finely sliced ginger
2. 1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced
3. 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce
4. 1 tbsp. of dark soy sauce
5. 2 tbsp. Shaon Xing rice wine
6. 1 chicken breast, diced
7. pinches of corn flour
8. 2 tbsp. oil

For the Congee:
9. 1 litre of chicken stock
10. 1.5 litre of water
11. 1 cup of long grain rice (rinse two or three times, then drained)
12. 1/4 cup of glutinous rice
13. 1/2 tsp. salt
14. 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

For the Garnish:
15. 1 clove of garlic, sliced and deep fried
16. 1 spring onion, finely chopped
17. 1 tbsp. of roasted peanut
18. a handful of chopped coriander leaves.
19. 1/2 inch of finely sliced ginger (omit if you prefer your congee with less heat)

Process:
Chicken:
1. Marinade the chicken for one hour with all the marinade ingredients listed above except for the oil.
2. After one hour, heat a wok over high heat, add 2tbsp. of oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, add your chicken with the marinade into the wok. Stir fry for a 5 minutes or so until the chicken is golden brown and cooked. Set aside.

For the Congee:
2. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan bring the chicken stock, water, rice and glutinous rice to a boil over low-medium heat. Cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture is creamy, about 1.5 hour.

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For the Garnish:
3. Serve the congee in a bowl, add the stir fried chicken and garnish on top and serve.

Note: You can make the plain congee a few days in advance, stored in a container in the fridge.  Simply bring it to the boil and add your stir fry your chicken when you are ready to eat it.  You can also eat the porridge plain or add any toppings you like.

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Crispy Prawn Balls

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Inspired from my recent trip to Taipei, I thought I’d re-create the sumptuous crispy golden prawn balls I had there during my visit. This dish is ever so simple yet tasty and a perfect appetiser to serve at dinner parties. Below are some pictures taken from Taipei 101 where I had these gorgeous crispy prawn balls.

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KITCHEN KIT:
Deep fat fryer or a large sauce pan, tongs, food processor, net ladle, absorbent kitchen paper.  A plate, a cling film, a pastry brush and four bowls.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Marinating:
1. 235g fresh prawns, deveined and chopped
2. 70g fresh pollock filet fish, chopped
3. 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
4. 1 tsp. salt
5. 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
6. 1 tsp. sugar
7. 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
8. 3 tbsp. Shao Xing rice wine
9. 4 tbsp. corn flour
10. 2 tbsp. plain flour

Coating and Frying:
11. 2 tbsp. plain flour
12. 1 egg beaten
13. 8 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
14.800 ml. sunflower oil

To serve:
15. 1 head of baby gem lettuce
16. 50g coriander, chopped
17. 2 spring onions, chopped
18. 4 tbsp. shop- bought- sweet chilli sauce

Process:

Marinating:
1. Tip the prawns, fish, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine, cornflour and plain flour into a food processor – and blend until all the ingredients are well combined.Take a spoonful of the combined ingredients into your palm and make 14 golfball size balls.Using a pastry brush, brush the plate and the cling film with oil. Place the prawn balls on an oiled plate and cover with a cling film for at least one hour. It is important to oil the plate and the cling film as this will prevent the prawn balls from sticking into the plate and the cling film.

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Coating and Frying:
2. Place the beaten egg, plain flour, panko breadcrumbs on separate bowls. Dip each prawn balls into flour first, then into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs coating all sides.Heat the vegetable oil in a dee fat fryer or a wok over a medium heat. Drop each prawn balls into the hot oil and deep fry, turning over when golden on one side.The prawns will cook for approximately 4 minutes. It would be best not to cook the prawn balls in 3 or 4 batches this will keep the oil temperature hot and will ensure that all the prawn balls are cooked evenly.

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3. Lift the prawn balls out with a net ladle when golden brown. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
Serve with chopped coriander, spring onions, baby gem lettuce and serve straight away with a shop-bought sweet chilli sauce. Alternatively, you can also serve this with a bowl of rice as part of a main course.

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Enjoy!

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