Here’s what to make when you’re recovering from food poisoning and the only thing you can stomach is congee, except you don’t have rice because:
a) You live in Hong Kong and your apartment is too small to store a sack of rice.
b) You live in Hong Kong and your countertop is too small for a rice cooker.
c) You live in Hong Kong and if you wanted rice, you could go to any of the restaurants downstairs, so why make it at home?
But what you DO have is rice noodles, along with a few other items you should always have in your pantry/freezer, including:
- Various dried noodles.
- Homemade chicken stock.
- Dried shiitake mushrooms.
- Sesame oil.
- Spring onions or cilantro.
- And maybe you have soy milk.
There’s a fine line between inspiration and desperation, and although this dish may have arisen out of desperation, I can tell you it was the only thing in 24 hours that my body didn’t reject, so I think it’s safe to share for times such as these.
Besides, a properly (i.e. generously) seasoned broth of katsuobushi/shiitake-infused chicken stock blended with sweet, smoky roasted garlic has gotta be one of the world’s most comforting flavor bombs.
When you can’t find the strength to stumble outside your own door, but you can dump things in a blender, here’s what you make:
Blended Rice Noodle Congee. Because blended rice noodles basically is rice, right?
To Roast Garlic:
Slice the top off an entire head of garlic. Drizzle with salt and olive oil, wrap in aluminium foil and place in a baking pan. Roast in an oven at 400°F (205° C) for 45 minutes or until soft and browned. More browned = more smoky aromatics, which is good.
When it’s done, reserve the garlic oil and mix with an equal amount of toasted sesame oil.
Boil rice noodles until soft. Drain the water.
In a blender-safe container, add the cooked noodles.
Add roughly two cups of chicken stock, which you’ve boiled with a couple of dried shiitake mushrooms (until tender) and a handful of katsuobushi, then strained.
Add the mushrooms.
Add half the head of roasted garlic, or roughly 6 cloves. You can eat the rest.
Add a half cup or so of unsweetened Chinese soy milk to make it slightly creamy, without adding heaviness.
Salt to taste. More salt is good here– it will unveil the flavors of the katsuobushi, shiitake, and roasted garlic. Also, carbs love salt.
A pinch of MSG never hurt anybody. (Haters gonna hate doe!!)
Blend till soupy. If it’s too thick (smooth but not soupy enough), add more stock and blend some more.
Top with thinly sliced scallions that you’ve dunked in ice water (to wash away the raw flavor, and to make them crispy and curly).
Drizzle with the reserved garlic/sesame oil and finish with finely ground white pepper.
Too heavy? Stir in a dash of Chinese red vinegar.