Congee – Comfort is King

June 26 2009 - 3:05 PM

Spending a long weekend in Manhattan is something to look forward to… especially when it comes to food. 2 hours after landing, before I could even be homesick, I found myself at Congee Village on Delancy and Allen (1st). When the place has congee in the name and the yeasty scent of rice fills the room, you know what to make sure to order. Clue two is that when a table of Brooklynites, especially one in the city to photograph disappearing Jewish eateries, compare the medicinal benefits of congee to chicken soup you need to take notice.

Cantonese-style congee at the VIllage, was really wonderful. Cantonese congee has very fine and broken down rice grain. The flavor is clean and completely that of 'rice'. the roast duck added a pronounced depth that never got to the point of richness. It was terrific. Compared to other stewy/soupy comfort foods like Goulashes, Nehari or Chicken Soup it's very light yet remarkably hearty.

Recipes are quite simple. It's really water and rice porridge. Wash the rice and set it up with a rough ratio of 8 cups of water to 1 of rice. Towards the end add your 'other' ingredients. Popular add-ons that may complicate things include eggs and cornstarch… I think that cornstarch as a thickener may be considered cheating… not sure though.

In Chicago you can find good congee many places. It's a traditional dim-sum option and should be cheap. Furama on the northside does it and there should be no shortage of options in Chinatown.
When you see the big glutenous bowls… go for it.

But if you're in NY go to the Village
Congee Village
100 Allen St. (near Delancy)
New York City