Thursday, July 13, 2017

Loaded congee comfort

Just a short random post from me today. Today is my birthday - and I've been off work sick with a cold! Congested runny nose, mild fever, sore throat, occasional cough and dizziness. Not too bad all things considered. Hoping to nurse it before it really gets worse.

How better to nurse it than with delicious comfort food?! And my ultimate comfort food for when I'm unwell is congee, or rice porridge/rice soup. You can find versions of it all over Asia. When I was suffering from travellers' belly in Thailand (the worst thing for a foodie!), all I could eat was congee from a street stand not far from Khao San Road, served with your choice of protein, but in my case, with just a sprinkling of spring onion, a tablespoon of fish sauce, and some ginger. I was really lucky to find it, especially in such a popular crowded location, because it's considered very humble domestic fare and most tourist eateries will focus on more exciting dishes.

In Vietnam it's called cháo. It can be made with anything really - softly poached chicken is popular. My mum likes to make it with minced pork and finely diced vegetables. I prefer it plain, cooked with a bit of white onion, then topped with any condiment and addition I'm in the mood for, but almost always mixed with at least some soy sauce, pepper, and a few drops of sesame oil.

I went all out with my toppings this morning, and ended up with a super tasty luxe porridge - some tender salty and peppery beef mince to offset the bland rice soup, crispy fried shallots and garlic chips, slices of crunchy chinese fried breadsticks or doughnuts (called dầu cháo quẩy in Vietnamese), and a swirl of sriracha chili sauce. Hiding in the centre of my bowl was a soft-cooked egg, waiting patiently for me to dig my way to it.

It really is just the perfect food for when you're under the weather! It requires minimal chewing, it's hearty, it's easy on the stomach, it's filling, it's hot, it's soft, it's wholesome, it's very simple to cook, and quick to eat.

You can make it as thick or thin as you like, but there's plenty of water in it to hydrate a sick person, and it's so versatile you can make it as savoury or as neutral-flavoured as you need.

I just love cháo! It has saved me on so many occasions. It's a meal that always reminds me of my childhood; of days of being fussed over by my mum when I was too ill to go to school, and given a bowl of this delicious comfort food before being sent to bed for a nap.

What food do you like to eat when you are sick? Would love to get your comments in the box below. 😃 😊

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