Every time I am at a congee shop, I wonder if the congee business might be the most lucrative and relaxing in the restaurant industry. Your main ingredients are rice and water (and stock, but that’s also mostly water), which are dirt cheap. You make one big vat of porridge beforehand. Your menu can be vast, but each of those variations (pork, egg, seafood, whatever) requires just a tiny bit of cooking or heating up at the end. And congee is such amazing and versatile comfort food that people will flock to it for breakfast, lunch, or hangover relief.
My latest congee “effort” makes use of stir-fried chicken and goji berries. The latter is because I had leftover meat from my Orange Sesame Chicken, and the former because I just bought an expensive bag of organic gojis that I should cook with instead of snacking on like raisins. I don’t know how many of the antioxidant claims attributed to gojis are true, but I’ll keep eating them if they are reputed to help your eyesight. (Food blogging and other frequent computer usage doesn’t exactly do wonders for myopia.)
To make this congee, just heat up rice until soft enough to fall apart, then add sautéed chicken and goji berries. Depending on how much seasoning you like in your congee, you may get enough flavor from the chicken to not need more salt. And the gojis add a nice touch of sweetness and color. Heck, you can even pour these into shot glasses and do congee shooters at your next cocktail party.
Chicken Congee with Goji Berries
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 cup long-grain, short-grain, or jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 6 to 8 cups water
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
- 1 teaspoon salt
- A dash of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
- 1 cup goji berries, rinsed and drained
- In a medium to large pot, heat up the rice, stock, and water until liquid comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and replenishing water as necessary.
- Half an hour before the congee is done, in a medium bowl mix together the soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, salt, pepper, and sesame oil. Add the chicken, turn to coat, and marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Ten minutes before the congee is done, cook the chicken: Heat the oil in a wok, add ginger and quickly stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry until cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir the chicken to the simmering congee. Simmer for another two minutes. Adjust the seasoning as necessary with salt and pepper. Toss in the goji berries, and give everything another quick stir. Turn off the heat, and serve the congee piping hot in individual bowls.