Brown Rice, Leek & Shitake Congee
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Growing up in Hong Kong I was lucky enough to have been exposed to so many wonderful ancient traditional Chinese methods, cooking and medicines. It is no coincidence that my life path has ended up so close to the world of oriental medicine. It is engrained in my being, in my blood, in my heart.
I remember as a child, the warming smells from sitting in traditional congee shops and watching all the amazing ingredients going in to each type of congee and how, on the menu, each congee was accompanied with words like “tonifying for lungs”, “Stomach nourishment”, “Heart strengthener”, not really understanding from my head but knowing deep inside of me that this was medicine.
Now fast forward 30 years and here I am, qualified and working in a field where I see and teach about food as medicine.
Congee is something that will always be medicine for me. It is what my mamma and grandmother made us when we were sick. It was what we ate on days when we didn’t feel like eating and what we ate to keep us warm through the winter months. And today it is one of the dishes that will always come when the calling for simple, healing, nourishing but deeply powerful foods are in order.
In this variation, I use both Shitake Mushrooms and Leeks. Both such medicinal foods. Shitake Mushrooms are such a beautifully nutritious food – in oriental medicine they are known for extracting excess heat from the body and also break down excess animals fats and oils from the body. Fantastic when we or our children have fevers! Put together with leeks which are fresh, light and vibrant, this combination is one of my all time favourites.
- 1 Large Leek
- 2 Cups Dried Shitake Mushrooms (Soaked for 1hr)
- 2 White Onions
- 280g Short Grain Brown Rice (Soaked for 1hr-24hrs)
- 1 x 4-5inch Strip of Kombu Seaweed
- 1.5-2l of Vegetable Stock or Water (See my nourishing Veg Stock Recipe)
- 3-4 Heaped Tbls of White Miso Paste
- 3 Spring Onions
- Sea Salt
- Organic Sesame Oil
– Firstly to cook the Rice: After soaking the rice for at least 1hr, optimum time 24hrs, put it either in a large pot or pressure cooker and add 2 times the amount of water and the strip of Kombu with a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil or up to pressure then turn heat right down to low and leave to cook for 50-55min or until nice and soft
– Whilst the rice is cooking you can make your stock if you do not have some already in your freezer See my Nourishing Veg Stock Recipe.
– Cut Onions into finely cubes and finely slice the Leeks into half moons.
– Take the soaked Shitake Mushrooms (keep the soaking liquid) and slice into nice thick slices. They should be soft – if they are not then leave them to soak for longer
– Heat up some sesame oil and add Onions and a good pinch of sea salt and fry until the onions begin to turn translucent
– Then add the Leeks and add another pinch of sea salt. Mix well and leave to fry on a medium heat until they begin to sweat/soften.
– Then add the sliced Shitake Mushrooms and all the soaking water and let it all simmer for another 5-7minutes.
– Then add all the Cooked Rice and add Vegetable Stock so that it is fully covered. Add 1.5l first then let it cook on a low simmer for an hour. If you need to add more stock then you can do that later
– Now season well with another 3 good pinches of sea salt and all the white miso paste
– Continue to let it simmer on a very low heat until it is the right consistency.
– You want the rice to be really nice and soft and for the whole dish to be creamy and thick but not too thick. It should be half way between a soup and a stew!
– Once done add all the finely sliced spring onions and mix them in well. They do not need to cook, they will cook enough in the heat of the stew
Voila! You’re done! Enjoy and let your body absorb the medicine!