Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Abalone Congee with Mustard Greens

The weather has been cold and damp the past week. I know in most parts of the world, people are celebrating summer at this moment. But here in this tropical country, we only have two seasons: dry and wet. It is now the wet season or the monsoon months. This means we get lots of typhoons or we get lots of rains. Either way, streets get flooded, our shoes get muddy, our clothes get wet... unless we stay inside the house for two to three months.

Last week, there was no typhoon but there were three low pressure areas, so we got lots of rain. Yesterday, one low pressure area has intensified into level one typhoon. So, we got more rains today.

I'm sorry for sounding so gloomy. Hubby was feeling gloomy too. With the rising oil prices, labor costs, electricity costs, local business outlook is not good either. So, to cheer him up, I thought of cooking one of our comfort foods - the flavored congee (In Fookian, we call it Kiam Be).

Actually, the congee is a common dish in every Chinese household. Often, mothers would cook this plain when children are sick. Babies are fed congee for their first solid food. Probably that is why it has become a comfort food for most of us. That is what our mothers cook when we feel uneasy or uncomfortable.

There are as many variety of flavored congee as there are ingredients. With just the rice as the main ingredient, we can put in as many ingredients to flavor the rice as how we want the congee to taste like. We can use a variety of seafoods, meat, and vegetables or a combination of ingredients. I have posted another flavored congee before - the Dried Scallop Congee, also one of our favorites. Here is another one. My green-loving Hubby prefers this one because it has mustard greens.

2 C mixed rice (1 part white rice, 1 part red rice), washed
8 C water
a few slices of ginger
4 T minced garlic
250 gms lean ground pork, marinated in
- 3 T soy sauce
- 2 T cornstarch

2 bunches mustard greens (also called leaf mustard or green mustard cabbage), cleaned, cut
1 can abalone
4 pcs dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 4 hours, sliced with stems discarded

1. Saute ginger in a little oil (preferably canola oil) until golden brown. Add garlic and saute until fragrant but not burnt.

2. Add in the lean ground pork. Stir fry until color changes. Add in the rice and soaked mushrooms. Mix well.

3. Add water and the liquid from the can of abalone. Simmer after the liquid boils. Cook for 15 - 25 minutes until rice is cooked. You may add water if you prefer your congee watery.

4. When rice is cooked, add in the chopped mustard greens. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the greens are limp and cooked.

5. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Slice the abalone meat thinly.

7. Ladle the congee into individual serving bowls. Top with the sliced congee. Sprinkle with chopped green onions or scallions if preferred. Serve hot.

This is the can of abalone we have here. Abalones are large sea-snails or marine mollusks, considered an expensive delicacy in Asia. It tastes of the sea yet clean, tender crisp, delicate and light. In Chinese, abalone are called Bao Yu, and often is a part of an expensive Chinese banquet. It ranks with the Shark Fin Soup, that is considered a symbol of wealth and prestige, and is traditionally reserved for special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations. But unlike the Sharks (the source of the Shark's Fin Soup), abalones are not endanged, and is in fact commercially farmed nowadays.

You can say using this expensive delicacy is truly the ultimate comfort food. It is for my Hubby. When he started eating, he was telling me he was not feeling well, he does not feel like eating. (That's how depressed he was.) But after tasting some spoonfuls, he continued eating. I was surprised he finished the whole bowl!

Yes! Life is good. No matter what kind of weather we have outside. God's grace abounds everyday. Good food, happy family, I have enough.


noobcook said...

I come from Singapore, so I can totally relate to you about the weather (and we only have one season, which is HOT!). I love abalone congee ... this is comfort food at its best :D

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

This looks delicious! I had abalone once in a restaurant many years ago. I loved it, but haven't seen it since. I would love to find it again and try this.

Kar said...

Yum Yum yum. looks p good to me

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