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.

Congee 1

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.

Congee 3

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Tuscan Ribollita (Reboiled Soup)

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During my visit to Florence I discovered this humble soup in Trattoria da Roco. Although it doesn’t look so apetising, it is a very comforting; a hearty soup that is tasty and filling. I have been making this soup since I came back from Florence and have tried a few different ways of making it. I tried using thyme and added other vegetables to it. The key ingredient is the Tuscan Kale and the beans, which I didn’t omit in any of my previous experiments. Recently, to my surprise I discovered that there is an official ‘authentic’ Ribollita recipe issued by the Tuscan Tourist office.  Although, my recipe is not the authentic recipe endorse by the Tuscan authorities it is one of my favourite experiments and the stubborn side of me can’t help but stick to my easier and quicker version. Though, I would certainly try making the authentic recipe the next time I am in Tuscany and can get access to ‘Tuscan Kale’. The best part of making this soup is that it tastes even better the day. It is no wonder the Italian’s named it Reboiled Soup.

KITCHEN KIT:
A 5 litre ceramic caserole dish and a wooden spoon.

Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1. 6 tbsp of olive oil
2. 65g, diced pancetta
3. 3 cloves of peeled garlic, grated
4. 2 onions, finely chopped
5. 3 celery sticks, finely chopped into little cubes
6. 3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped into little cubes
7. 1 courgette, finely chopped into little cubes
8. 2 bay leaves
9. 2 rosemary sprigs
10.400g chopped tomatoes (from a tin)
11.400g of cannellini beans (from a tin)
12.600ml chicken stock
13. 2 tbsp. of tomato paste
14. 2 slices of a loaf of bread, torn into small pieces.
15. 1/2 tsp of salt
16. 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
17. 80g of chopped Kale
18. 4 tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese

Process:
1. Place the caserole in a medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Fry the garlic, pancetta, onion, rosemary and bay leaves for 5 minutes or until the onions turns translucent. Keep stirring to prevent the garlic from getting burnt.

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2. Add the chopped celery, carrots, courgettes and soften for 5 minutes.

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3. Add the chopped tomatoes,cannellini bans, chicken stock, tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat (lowest heat possible), stir and cover the casserole for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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4. After 30-45 minutes, add the bread and kale, stir them in and cover the caserole again. Cooked for another 10 minutes before adding the 3 tbsp. of olive oil.  Season to taste and just before serving garnish the soup with some grated parmesan cheese.

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That’s it! buon appetito!

Tips:
You can add more water if you find that the soup is becoming slightly dry. If you do add more water, give the soup a good stir and just let it simmer for a couple of minutes so you do not lose the flavour of the soup.

You can also cook this dish at the lowest possible heat for 24 hours, you need to cover the casserole to ensure that the liquid does not evaporate too much, stirring occasionally to also ensure the vegetables and bread does not get burnt. I find that this dish is actually better the next day when reheated and all the flavours of the vegetables are infused into the soup and bread. This a soup that taste good when reheated which I think could be the reason why they named it ‘reboiled soup’ in Tuscany.

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Macau’s Won Ton Noodle Soup ( Won Ton Tong Meen 雲吞湯麵)

Wonton
Wonton noodle soup is a common dish that can be found all over China. There are several variations to this dish and the recipes and the shape of the wonton can vary quite significantly across the different regions of China. This version is my take on a classic Cantonese wonton noodle soup, the type that you find in Macau or Hong Kong.

In Macau the stock for the wonton noodle soup is usually made with fish, chicken and pork bones. For this recipe however I have used dried shrimps as an alternative to fish. Wonton noodle soup is always served in Macau and Hong Kong with egg noodles and the filling is always a combination of pork and prawns. Locals love this dish and so do many Westerners.

I’ve been eating wonton noodle soup from as long ago as I can remember. When I worked in Hong Kong I used to have an amazing wonton noodle soup at least once a week for lunch. I probably shouldn’t say this as it exposes my food obsession. Every lunchtime an old lady that worked at our company would take all our orders for lunch and go and collect the food, I always asked her to get me the amazing wonton noodle soup. She would go and buy them from a tiny restaurant in Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. They were the biggest wontons I’ve ever eaten. They were absolutely enormous, bigger than a golf ball, and so delicious!

Sadly, like many things in Hong Kong the tiny restaurant that sold those wontons is no longer around. Now living in the UK, it is not always possible for me to get wonton noodle soup for lunch, so I now make these when I miss the hot humid days working in Tsim Sha Tsui!

I hope you like this too!

 

KITCHEN KIT:
A large bowl, 1 medium size sauce pan, 1 large sauce pan, pastry brush.
For the Wonton Makes 32:
1.  180g Pork minced
2.  150g Shrimp, shells removed, deveined and finely chopped
3.  2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated
4.  25g ginger, crushed or grated (it’s important to crushed or grate the ginger than slice it)
5.  8g fresh chives, finely chopped (use yellow chives if available)
6.  2 tbsp. light soy sauce
7.  1 tbsp. oyster sauce
8.  1 tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine
9.  1 tsp. sugar
10. ½ tsp. sesame oil
11. ½ tsp. ground white pepper
12. ½ tsp. salt
13. 32 of 9cm square, wonton wrappers

For the wonton paste:
14. ½ tsp. cornstarch
15. 2-3 tbsp. water

For the Egg noodles:
16. 150g fresh egg noodles serves 2 (alternatively use dried egg noodles)

For the Soup:
17. 30g ginger, slice
18. 1 liter. of chicken stock
19. ½ liter of pork bone stock (or use spare ribs to make the stock)
20. 15g dried shrimps
21. ¼ tsp. sesame oil
22. Pinch of salt
23. Pinch of ground white pepper
24. A handful of chives, finely chopped (use yellow chives if available) (garnish)
25. A handful of spring onions, finely chopped (garnish)
For the Wontons:
1.  Mix all the Wonton ingredients together on bowl. Leave to marinade for 1-2 hours or overnight.


2.  To make the paste that will seal your wonton wrappers, combine cornstarch and water on a small bowl and mix until the cornstarch has completely dissolved into the water without lumps.
3.  Using a teaspoon place your wonton mixture in the middle of the wonton wrappers; brush only one corener side of the wonton wrappers with cornstarch and water. Take one side of the wonton wrapper and cover the other side. Press the sides gently with your fingers to seal them well. (They can now be cooked or frozen for later used, to be used within a month)

 

 

Wonton
4.  On a medium size sauce pan, bring some water to the boil. Once your water starts to boil add your wontons in batches, it is important to cook them in batches and not overcrowd them so they cook well. Once the wontons float to the surface they are done. Remove them and set aside. (For 2 servings cooked 8 wontons and froze the rest for later use)

Wonton

The Egg Noodles:
5.  On the same sauce pan you used to cook the wontons, add your fresh egg noodles in and cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. If you are using dried egg noodles follow the packet instructions for cooking as some dried egg noodles takes longer cooking time.
For the Soup:
6.  On a large sauce pan over high heat, add your slice ginger, 1 liter of chicken, ½ liter hot water and pork bones (you can use spareribs for this). Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 1 hour. Remove any impurities that come out from the pork, throughout the simmering time.
7.  After 1 hour, add your dried shrimps and simmer for another 15 minutes.
8.  Season with some salt and white pepper. Pass the stock through a fine sieve or muslin cloth so you are left with a nice clear broth. Alternatively you can just take the broth carefully, removing shrimps, ginger and pork bones before serving it.

 

Final Stage:
9.  Transfer cooked noodles on a bowl, top with your cooked wontons then your soup. Finally garnish with some chopped chives and spring onions.

Wonton

Serve immediately with steamed pack choi.
Extra Tip:
Freezing Wontons-Once made they can be frozen immediately in the freezer for a month. If you do have a big freezer, I recommend that you freeze the wontons between 1-2 hours, flat on a baking sheet with some gaps between and covered with a cling film. Once frozen you can then place the individual and separated wontons in a freezer bag, this way you can cook them one at a time.
Cooking the frozen wontons- frozen wontons does not need to be thawed/defrosted before cooking them. You can just drop them on boiling water and once they float in the surface they are cooked.

 

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Vladimira’s Creamy Courgette Soup

I got this recipe from my wonderful friend Vladimira who is an amazing cook. This soup is so comforting, perfect for a cold winters day.  It is filling and yet refreshing at the same time. I love this recipe so much and I am so glad she taught me how to make this soup. The good news is, not only it is  tasty but it is also quick and simple to prepare! I am sure you will enjoy this as much as I do!

KITCHEN KIT:
A sauce pan, slotted spoon and a potato masher

Ingredients Serves 4:
1.  4 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
2.  2 tbsp. Olive oil
3.  1.5 kg big courgettes, roughly chopped
4.  100ml Single cream
5.  100ml full fat milk
6.  500ml Chicken stock or cube
7.  Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
8.  Handful of Basil leaves
9.  Pinch of salt
10. Pinch of  ground white pepper
11. Parmesan or cheddar cheese, grated

The Soup:
1.  On a sauce pan over a medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of oil, when the oil is hot add your garlic and courgettes in and fry for 10 minutes. Add your chicken stock into the pan, let it simmer for 8 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat.


2.  Using a slotted spoon, take out 2/3 of the courgettes from the pan, courgettes on a bowl and mash them roughly. You only need to take out the courgettes, leaving the liquid on the pan.


3.  Return the mashed courgettes into the pan. Return the pan into a medium heat, then add your cream and milk. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until the soup has slightly thickened.


4.  Stir on your parsley, season with some salt and pepper. Garnish with some basil and grated parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately with a nice warm freshly baked bread.

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