I think I’ve made this congee with shredded chicken three times in the last two weeks, mainly on my Sundays alone (which is actually a Monday). Sunday/Mondays are the days when I tend to do writing work and clean the apartment. Lately it’s been either grey or white skies I wake up to, both are like opening your eyes to a soft embrace, especially when you don’t have to leave the house for work or errands. Making congee takes at least 2 hours of almost totally hands off time, so I usually begin making it once I’m ready to sit down and write. That way, towards late afternoon when I suddenly realize I haven’t eaten yet, I’m treated to an incredibly nourishing and soothing mid-afternoon meal. You can use a whole chicken if you’d like, although I’m more likely to have chicken thighs in the freezer so I use those instead. It’s imperative the chicken have both skin and bones intact, these ensure the congee ends up richly thick and gives immense flavour to the broth. Simple to assemble, congee can be eaten alone or with a wide variety of condiments. Some of my favourites include sambal oelek, sriracha, lime wedges, slivered scallion, a splash of fish or soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh basil or cilantro, extra grated ginger or garlic, napa cabbage, and shredded carrot. This is ultimate comfort food so make every attempt to eat in your pyjamas, curled up on the couch under an afghan with a good book. Bonus points if it’s raining and you have the windows open so that you can smell the overwhelming greenery just outside your apartment.
congee with shredded chicken:
4-5 large chicken thighs OR 1 whole chicken, skin and bones intact
3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 2 or 3 pieces
3 Tbsp. jasmine rice
1. Place the chicken and ginger in a large pot with a lid and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for at least an hour and up to two.
2. Strain the broth through a fine sieve into another pot, reserving the chicken and allowing it to cool. Bring the broth to a very low simmer and cook the rice for at least a half an hour and up to a full hour (the rice will begin to disintegrate, but you’ll have an amazingly thick congee in the end).
3. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred into large pieces. Portion into large shallow bowls and cover with the hot congee. Eat as is or load up on any of the suggested condiments or anything else you think might taste delicious.
I can’t listen to music with a lot of singing, or lyrics, when I’m writing for work; I find it incredibly distracting. I love songs such as this one, a slowed down Dead Can Dance sort of sound. It’s wonderfully atmospheric and feeds into my love for dark days and solitude for long stretches of time.
Bvdub & Ian Hawgood – Beauty is in the Eye of the Pretender