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Recipes From Afar: Congee Two Ways, Old + New
"American Girl Porridge," courtesy of Kimberly Nichols
My obsession with Asian porridges started years ago, when I found the cheaply made and nutritious bowl of ancient Chinese food called congee listed as one of the most nutritious foods in the world, according to my global herbalism textbook. It was noted that many a spry monk in the Himalayas considered three plain bowls of soupy rice a day the key to vibrant health and longevity. To that end, my herbal course suggested mixing up the plain, lovingly long-cooked rice and water recipe with a myriad of fun additions like herbs, spices, minced vegetables, and even miso. Then I started seeing various forms of Asian porridge pop up like wildflowers on the menus of the hottest Los Angeles restaurants as a comfort-food dessert with sweet curry or a warm breakfast bowl alternative to the typical American oatmeal.
When I mentioned my porridge fascination to my Japanese-Chinese boyfriend, he told me what I was calling porridge sounded a lot like his mother’s famous jook. That year during the holidays, he showed me what he meant by turning every spare bit of meat on a devoured turkey carcass (and rice, and carrots) into an unctuous, lush bowl of goodness.Read more
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