Congee – The Asian Equivalent of Chicken Noodle Soup

Soup, hot beverages, loads of vitamin C – all of these are great options when you are feeling under the weather, like me right now! I remember when I was in Mexico, I got laryngitis and happened to stumble randomly into a much needed soup that was so homely and comforting to eat. It was similar to a chicken noodle soup (minus the noodles), but from what I could gather it contained pieces of shredded chicken, onions, tomatoes, cilantro in a chick stock base with some salt and pepper. They called it chado xochilda, though that may have been a typo or bad memory on my part because my Mexican friend couldn’t translate it (he thinks chado is actually caldo, which means soup in Spanish). To this day, I wish I knew the recipe for that soup but I digress!

For others, there’s something called congee. I grew up disliking congee because I always associated it with illness or cold winters, but as I got older I learned to appreciate it. It’s a type of porridge made with rice and can be quite thick. Tastewise, it can differ depending what ingredients are put into it. Some congees are just plain water and rice, but there are many cooked with meat bones. Congee is not normally bursting with flavours and I would consider it somewhat bland in comparison to dishes like chicken tikka masala, pad thai or jerk chicken BUT it is supposed to be a healthy option. My favourite type is ham dan sou yuk juk (excuse my horrible transcription), which has lean pork, salty egg and 1000 year old eggs.

Congee with Veggies

Over the years, people have become more creative with this standard, plain Jane porridge that has been around for years. In fact, it’s eaten in many countries around the world and each one has their own flair to it. My mother has personally started using other types of grains and coloured rice in some of her recipes and has even added some vegetables to the mix like corn, carrots, etc., like the one above. While I have yet to perfect the art of making congee, I can say I definitely appreciate those who can make a good bowl and I especially enjoy eating it right now!
 

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