This seemingly plain bowl of fish congee is more sophisticated than it sounds: the fresh ginger, freshly marinated silky and tender white fish, topped with chopped raw scallions and fried salted peanuts is comforting and harmonious.
Fish Congee has a very special place in my heart. It was my absolutely favorite congee as a kid. My mom often purchased this from the local Chinese restaurant when she picked up my brother and I from preschool. It was something I was always in the mood for and ate contently.
I wanted to create this congee for my children, but we no longer live where fish congee was available from a restaurant so I was on the lookout to make my own. I’ve been making this for about two years now and no longer have to look at a recipe to make it. I first found the recipe at Rotinrice and followed that; it was perfect. I’ve since played around with it and looked at other recipes and came up with my own version now. I had to omit ginger (the main star of the dish) this time because I didn’t have any, peanuts and scallions as well. Fresh ginger makes a huge impact on this dish.
1 lb any kind of white fish (we’ve used flounder and cod- flounder is more tender and not as chewey)
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
• 1½-2 cups rice (rinsed and drained)
• 2-3inch ginger (peeled and sliced
• 8-10 cups water
• Salt to taste
Salted fried peanuts
White pepper and salt taste
Extra drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil to taste (don’t over do it- it can overpower the delicate fish congee)
If you haven’t made congee before, try not to stir it in the middle of cooking- it can get too mushy and watery if you mix it too frequently.
1- Cut fish into bite size pieces and marinate in soy sauce, sesame oil, cooking wine and white pepper for about 10 minutes.
2- Prep the congee rice (sushi rice) by rinsing and draining and fill it up with water.
3- Bring to a boil and bring heat down to medium or medium low and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
4- Give a quick stir and let it continue to cook on low and slightly bubble for another 10 minutes.
5- Drop in the marinated fish slices one at a time and mix around and bring it to a little boil before shutting off completely.
6- Serve plain as it is or add additional white pepper, salt and other optional toppings to taste.
If it gets too thick, add about 1/2 a cup of filtered water, give a quick stir and turn fire either to low or even off to let it thicken on its own for at least 10 minutes. There’s not right or wrong really- it depends on the person’s preference.! If you make enough times, you will eventually adjust it accordingly with the cups of water. I prefer the viscosity of it to be like oatmeal that has just thickened- neither too watery or thick.
Do you have a favorite congee? I don’t think I can name a congee that I don’t like! Other variations include congee cooked with ginger, pork bones and mustard greens; thousand eggs and salted pork; and the Filipino version cooked with ginger, garlic, chicken and served with boiled eggs and scallions. I will eventually share the recipes for all of those. Yum!