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Congee by other names
Many Asian countries have a version of Chinese congee or “ Jook” which to me can be a bit bland even with the preserved egg and Chinese donut that often is served alongside for breakfast. In Southeast Asia congee is kicked up a few notches with far more flavourful variations and condiments.
In Thailand, rice congee is known as "chok" and is often served as breakfast with a raw or partially-cooked egg added. Minced pork or beef, shrimp, or chicken is usually added, and the dish is usually topped with a small version of pathongko or garnish of slivered ginger, deep fried shallots, and cilantro. Chok is usually served with a variety of salty, pickled vegetables.
Chicken, pork, fish or shrimp can be cooked in with the soup which is flavoured with garlic, ginger, scallions, cilantro, fish sauce and/or Mountain Sauce. Spicy pickles or pickled radish are often used as a side condiment.
“Chok” is popular as a breakfast dish, but some places that specialize in congee sell it throughout the day. Variations in the meat and toppings are also frequently found. Some offerings include blood cubes and various offal ie. intestines, heart lung, liver, and heart, chopped up). This latter version is especially popular in Northeast Thailand, Isan and also in Laos where chile condiments are served for each diner to adjust the flavours. Nam Pla Phrik (chiles in fish sauce) or ground dried chiles are often offered.
Congee or “Chok” is a perfect comfort food and often served to those who are sick and the elderly. We often make Chok as a light evening meal as it is so comforting and light on the stomach.
Variations of “Congee” in Southeast Asian countries:
Khao Chow or leftover jasmine rice is used to make Laotian congee with chicken called Kao Piak Kai. It is very much the same as in Thailand. They often add chiles fresh or dried for extra flavor.
In Cambodia, rice congee is called babaw and is eaten for breakfast. Plain congee is typically eaten with salted eggs, pickled vegetables, or dried fish. Chicken congee, pig's blood congee, and seafood congee are also commonly eaten.
In Vietnam, rice congee is called cháo. It is sometimes cooked with pandan leaves or Asian green beans. Sometimes toasted rice is added which gives a wonderful nutty flavour.
It is most commonly served as breakfast with pickled vegetables or fermented tofu. It is also popular as a lunch or dinner dish when cooked with a variety of meats. For example, Cháo gà is a variety of cháo cooked with chicken, garlic, and ginger, much as in Thailand.
"Cháo ḷng heo" is made with "ḷng heo" (a variety of pork entrails, including sliced cakes of congealed pork blood).
In Burma, rice congee is called san byohk: which means "rice boiled". It is very thin and plain, often made with just rice and water, but sometimes with chicken or pork stock and served with a simple garnish of chopped spring onions and crispy fried onions.
Content copyright © 2013 by Mary-Anne Durkee. All rights reserved.
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