Brown rice and quinoa congee with shiitake and ginger
This recipe is by editor Hetty McKinnon, and appears in Issue One: Chinatown
This is not a traditional congee (which is typically made with white rice and meat) but, honestly, I find this brown rice and quinoa version quite irresistible and almost superior to its traditional counterpart. Growing up, we always ate our congee with finely sliced scallions and a douse of Maggi seasoning; sometimes we would add a few strips of preserved turnip or some chunks of yaw char gwai (a Chinese doughnut-like bread fried in oil). Another nice topper would be the Ginger Scallion sauce.
½ cup brown rice
½ quinoa (white, black, red or combination of all three)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
40g (1.4oz) dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
1 inch piece of ginger, unpeeled and sliced
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/3 cup (60g) black eyed peas
1 star anise
about 8 cups hot tap water
sea salt and white pepper
This congee will take 1.5 to 2 hours to cook, simmering away gently on your stovetop.
Combine the brown rice and quinoa in a medium saucepan and rinse well in water - I like to get in there and scrunch the grains with my fingers – this removes the starch from the rice and the bitterness from the quinoa. Pour off the water.
Drain the mushrooms, and thinly slice.
Add the oil and salt to the rice and quinoa and combine well. Pour over about 8 cups of water, cover with lid and bring to a gentle boil. Then add the shiitake mushrooms, sliced ginger, garlic cloves, black eyed peas and star anise. Turn the heat down to a very low simmer, cover with lid and allow to cook gently for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Every 10 minutes or so, give the congee a stir. You may have to remove the lid every now and then to allow the steam to escape. A good way of doing this is to lay one chopstick on each side of the saucepan, then rest the lid on top of the chopsticks, leaving a gap for steam to escape. Add more hot water if it seems too thick.
Your congee is ready once it is thick and creamy, similar to the texture of porridge. Remove the garlic cloves and, if you like, the ginger slices (I like to leave mine in as I love cooked ginger!). Season well with sea salt and white pepper. Ladle into individual serving bowls and top with coriander, scallions and sesame seeds.