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Congee, garnished with broiled skinless boneless chicken breast, shredded pickled ginger, chopped scallions, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger vinegar and minced heirloom chiles.

For the ginger vinegar: shred 3 tablespoons ginger and marinate in 1/8 cup rice wine vinegar for 30 minutes.

To make congee, combine 1 cup long-grain or jasmine rice with 6-9 cups of water or meat stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours partially covered, stirring occasionally or until congee reaches the consistency of thick oatmeal. If the liquid reduces, simply add more water or stock. Properly made, congee should have a silky smooth texture as the rice grains break down and thicken the cooking liquid. Ladle congee into bowls and let each diner top with garnishes of his or her choice.

The beauty of congee is that it acts as a flavor vehicle for whatever you want. Typical garnishes are chopped scallions, chopped Chinese parsley, fermented tofu, preserved turnip or other type of vegetable, thousand year old eggs, white pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, and/or roast pork. The possibilities are endless. This is Chinese comfort food at its best.

It’s a perfect antidote for a chilly, rainy evening.

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