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The Congee Incident

October 26, 2010

Back in August, I went out to a Chinese restaurant with a couple of old friends from Carleton.  I had just moved into the Twin Cities prior to starting grad school and I was living in this temporary housing thingie like a cross between a motel and a dorm room.  No money and no refrigerator space equals peanut butter and jelly and canned green beans.  Anyway, I figured I could scrounge together enough to go to this restaurant and see my friends.

I ordered congee.  It was mind-blowing.  In retrospect, this may have been because it was the most flavorful thing I had eaten in a couple of weeks.  It’s like this savory rice with chewy bits in it and flavored with ginger.  We were having a ball, I was slurping away, Wing was telling me all about how congee is like the chicken soup of the Chinese community – it’s what everyone eats when they’ve got the flu.  And ever since then it has been my mission to recreate this wonderful congee.

I knew from Wing that the basic principle is that you put some rice in more water than you usually use and then you boil it forever.  And I knew from the restaurant menu that there was pickled egg and ginger in it.  So I took some rice:

Kelp and pickled eggs from the Asian foods market near where I live:

I cut those up and threw them in the pot.

Can o’ mushrooms from the Rainbow Foods.  Also thrown into the pot.

Ginger, salt & pepper, chicken stock, garlic, teriyaki sauce.

I put it all in the Crock Pot and let it rip.  A few hours later, what do my wondering eyes behold?

OH GOD.  This dish is going to be legendary.  That was one of the most godawful disgusting things I have ever created.  This ranks up there with the Kohlrabi in the Soup Incident and the Chinese Five Spices Incident.  It smelled like low tide and the texture was like mucus.  After I threw it in the trash I had to take the trash out because it was stinking up the whole kitchen.

Next time, I am going to look up a recipe for congee before I begin.



I went and looked up an actual recipe for congee.  Turns out you’re supposed to add one pickled duck’s egg, not the whole six-pack.  That may have had something to do with it.

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