Congee's interesting - one of those more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts kind of nosh. Rice + water + any flavors, be they peanuts, chili oil, greens, or meats end up as a warm, belly-pleasing bowl of porridge.
My first congee was a random lunch in Chinatown. Had jury duty, didn't want a bagel sammich, walked a few blocks from the courthouse and found Buddah Bodai, a vegan dim sum house on the LES. Their mushroom congee totally made my week, and I've since replicated it to the best of my ability several times (oh, how I miss that place). Interestingly, since they serve the Buddhist crowd, you'll find no onion or garlic in theirs (inspires passion! oh noes) but do deviate, if you so desire. Traditionally a breakfast dish, I eat mine for dinner. With dumplings, of course.
6 cups water
1 cup white, flavorful rice (Jasmine is my fav)
8 medium shitakes, chopped
1 bunch beech or enoki mushrooms, separated
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons mushroom stock concentrate (optional)
Salt and sczechuan pepper to taste
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
Shredded bok choy
Chopped scallions or chives
In a large saucepan, bring your water to a boil. Wash your rice and add to pot. Simmer, covered, for an hour.
Add all additional ingredients except your sesame oil and pepper. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until the grains of rice have almost totally fallen apart and the stew has a creamy consistency. Finish with sesame oil, stir in bok choy. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with scallions and chili oil.
Props to my awesome Ma who, while hanging out with me this weekend, built me a tabletop softbox for lighting food. The above deliciousness is in no small part her doing :)