When I posted on the DiS! Facebook Page that I was so stoked about making Congee I got a lot of “huh?” and “what?” Well, gentle readers, I wouldn’t expect most of you to know what Congee is. I had no idea what the hell it was until I entered college and was, with some frequency, the token white girl in a group of Asians. Seriously.
On weekend nights we’d head down to Third Ave to what is probably the last remnant from Pittsburgh’s Chinatown (yeah, there was one!), Chinatown Inn. One of my most favorite-est places on the planet! Oh how I miss your karaoke, shrimp egg rolls, and cheap Sapporo.
Here are some pictures of me at Chinatown Inn–granted, these are from 2008 or 2009, but I basically look exactly like I did back when I was in college in 2001 (and the way I do now. Same hair!):
BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT EVER! And Happy Birthday to Iris! She’s celebrating her 29th birthday today!
(For the 5th time).
Anyway, when we’d go, we’d always end up with a bowl of yummy pork and century egg congee; I have been trying to make a reasonable facsimile of the Chinatown Inn congee for years now–and finally–FINALLY!–I came across a recipe that worked. And this is a retro recipe! I used the basic recipe from Gloria Bley Miller’s Chinese food compendium, The 1000 Recipe Chinese Cookbook, written in 1966. (It’s a pretty good cookbook, btw. One that I would recommend).
Well, ain’t that easy? From that basic recipe you can go in a whole bunch of directions (see last photo). But me? I wanted Century Egg.
Now, some notes on the Century Egg (or Thousand-Year Egg, or Hundred-Year Egg, or Millennium Egg). They are preserved duck eggs. I did a little research and apparently these eggs are one of those “we eat it so you don’t have to” bizarre foods. Really? Are they that gross?
OK, I guess they do look sorta weird. And they have the warning “IF HAVING DAMAGEDLY AND GOES BAD PLEASE DON’T BE EDIBLE.” Why I took to them so quickly, who knows. I guess the way to best describe them is that the outside is like Jell-O and the inside yolk is very creamy. I dunno. It works in the soup!
Anyway, quick rundown as to what I did for my version: I first boiled 2 bone-in chicken breasts with some scallions and ginger. Once cooked, I shredded the chicken and set it aside. In the water I used for the chicken, I cooked the rice as directed. At the end, I stirred in the chicken, some soy sauce and sesame oil, chopped century eggs, salt and pepper.
Here is the finished product!
I guess I went more of a Korean route (in Korea, congee is also called Juk), since I ate it with some kimchi and cold barley tea.
Let me tell you what makes a good congee–it’s what you put in it when you serve it. Congee is designed to be ultra-mild. It is eaten as a breakfast in China and and is recommended for folks who have tummy aches–or are hungover.
I think that the key is sesame oil and scallions. Lots and lots of scallions.
And since I’ve been taking a trip in the wayback machine to 2001, my college years, this is as good a time as any to talk about the BEST NEWS EVER. Or at least what I hope is THE BEST NEWS EVER. There is a rumor circulating that the BEST BAND EVER will be reuniting on Sunday during the MTV VMA telecast. That band?
Be still my beating heart. The last time they performed live together was 2003 (Bee Gees a cappella!!!). That is 10 years too long. This. Must. Happen.
This news thrilled me so much that on Tuesday night I popped in my Live at Madison Square Garden DVD and danced to the entire 90 minute concert. It is scary how much of the choreography is still with me. I wish I could say the same thing about basic math. Or my computer passwords. Or where I left my keys.
So, let’s say that they are indeed appearing at the VMAs. What song(s) do you think they will (or should) perform?
“Bye, Bye, Bye” is a must, right?
Oh, and maybe they can bring 1999 Britney with them!