My parents used to bring carcasses, that is, animal carcasses, home.
Waking up on Sunday morning when I was a kid, I knew there would be a small bowl of soy sauce, canola oil, and chopped green onions waiting on the lazy susan to garnish our morning congee. There was a pot on the stovetop filled with the still hot, simmered rice porridge made from any bone or carcass – fish, chicken, or duck – that we had dragged around. Whenever my parents ordered Peking Duck at a restaurant, they couldn’t stand the thought of wasting the leftover carcass. We ate a meal of crispy duck, then asked the restaurant to pack our bones.
âMore flavor,â my parents said.
Like my parents, I make congee whenever I roast a chicken or find fish bones in my freezer. (I definitely take the carcass home if I went out for the roast duck as well.) It’s an economical and sustainable way of cooking, but I do it because the chicken congee I make with bones is infinitely more delicious.
You can cook rice for congee (or Filipino arroz caldo or Vietnamese chÃ¡o) in water alone, but adding bones to a dish that doesn’t strictly need it is an ancient technique to enhance the flavor that appears in it. many classic dishes around the world. (Korean gomtang, which calls for beef bones, comes to mind, and Mexican pozole, which is traditionally made with a whole pig’s head.) Chicken carcass, you will know how tasty an already tasty dish can be. be enriched with collagen from the bones and soluble protein from all the pieces of meat attached. Adding bone to chicken congee makes for an even tastier and more satisfying porridge than your average bowl.
While using starchy rice is essential for a thick porridge, I treat my congee like chicken soup that simmers slowly and slowly all day, tasting and seasoning as it goes. I skim with love any grease or scum that rises to the top. Chef Jacques PÃ©pin wrote in his book Complete new techniques that “the chicken bones add a pleasant nutty and sweet taste to the broth”. This also works for the congee.
My chicken congee recipe comes from Cantonese recipes from Madame Choy, a cookbook I turn to whenever I seek to recreate the flavors of my childhood. I start by salting the lean pork loin and marinating boneless pieces of chicken (I prefer the thighs) in soy sauce the night before. In the morning, I’ll blanch and thinly slice the pork to add to the congee while it simmers. My rice (usually a long grain variety like jasmine) and chicken broth will go into a pot, and once it simmers gently, I add my chicken carcass (or duck or fish bones, if I have) with a generous pinch of salt. I let cook over low heat for the rest of the day, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When I’m ready to eat, I add the marinated chicken pieces and simmer until cooked through.
Chicken Congee (Gye Joke)Choy Wai Yuen
Madame Choy’s recipe doesn’t require any extra carcass or bones, and it’s incredibly delicious when made as it’s written, but I still follow in my parents’ footsteps and add chicken bones. extra every time I do it. The high gelatin content of the bones is released over the course of several hours, resulting in a deliciously thick, flavorful and full-bodied porridge that gets its texture from both rice starches and gelatin.
If you start with raw bones, for example, if you have the spine and neck left over after cooking a chicken with a spatula, you can blanch or roast them first. Bleaching the bones will allow blood, fat or impurities to rise to the surface and give you a purer tasting congee, while roasting the bones will give you something darker and more concentrated in flavor. But if, like me, you are a fan of effortless and highly rewarding cooking, just add some bones, raw or cooked, to your rice. My usual gesture is to cook and eat something with bones on Friday and toss the bones in my jar of congee on Saturday.
On Sunday morning I set the table with toppings and wish all my family was there. But even when digging on my own, the first dollop of steaming congee brings me back to quiet mornings at my parents’ dining table in Hong Kong.
Three Ladies Organic Long Grain Rice
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Fried shallots by Yi Feng
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Originally appeared on Epicurious