Congee wasn’t something that I grew up eating or something that was even on my radar until recently. Until watching season 12 of Top Chef (one of my favorite shows) I never knew that it was so very versatile. Mei Lin made congee twice during season 12. I still really want to try to make a Mexican version, one of Mei’s winning dishes, since Mexican food is my favorite. I wanted to make a vegan version of congee yet all of the recipes that I found included mushrooms or vegetables that my husband will not eat. I ended up finding a recipe online that Mei created so I knew that would be my first try at congee, I could easily turn her recipe into a vegan dish. I wanted to use my pressure cooker for the congee so I used the water/rice ratio and timing from the instant pot booklet. I felt that it made a thick congee, even though I used the water ratio for a thin congee. If you want to have a thin congee I would recommend adding more water than I have listed in the recipe. My husband loved the flavors but was not a fan of the texture. My six year old really loved this meal, especially the caramelized tofu. If I didn’t have kids (that don’t care for a lot of spice) eating this dish I would have added a pepper to the congee mixture. Thankfully sriracha is great to add at the end for those that like a little spice. In my case a lot of spice!
Congee with Caramelized Tofu
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, chopped
4 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 inch section of ginger, peeled and cut into coins
1/3 Cup Sushi Rice
2/3 Cup Jasmine Rice
1 Stalk Lemongrass, end trimmed and outer layers removed. Hit with the back of a knife to bruise the stalk.
7 Cups Water
Salt and Pepper
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
15 oz Firm/Extra firm tofu, pressed
2 Scallions, sliced (green tops reserved for garnish)
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, divided
4 Cloves Black Garlic
4 teaspoons Chinese Black Vinegar
6 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar
1/3 Cup Water
1. Press the Saute button on the pressure cooker. Add the oil, onion, and garlic cook stirring until the onion has softened. Add the ginger and rice cook for a minute until the rice is toasted. Press cancel and add the salt, lemongrass and water. Place lid on the pressure cooker, move vent to ‘sealing’. Press porridge (or cook on high pressure) and adjust the time to 15 minutes. Once the time is up allow to naturally release for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes release any remaining pressure. Remove lid tilting it away from you. Stir, taste and season the congee with salt and pepper. Prepare tofu and garnish while the congee cooks.
2. In a small bowl mash the black garlic with 1 Tablespoon of water, add 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce, and Chinese black vinegar to the bowl. Set aside.
3. Heat a large skillet over Medium-High heat. Add 1 Tablespoon oil and crumble the tofu into the pan. Cook stirring often until the tofu is golden on each side, if needed add the extra Tablespoon of oil. Add the bottom white/light green scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cayenne and 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce. Continue cooking until the soy sauce has been absorbed. Move the tofu mixture to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
4. Heat the skillet over Medium-High heat with the coconut sugar. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until the sugar has melted and turned dark amber. Do NOT stir. Remove from heat and stir in the black garlic mixture. Add the tofu and 1/3 cup of water. Return to medium-high heat and cook until the sauce starts to thicken and the tofu is heated through.
5. Place the congee in serving bowls, top with the tofu mixture and any garnishes that you would like. The peanuts and bean sprouts gave the congee texture while the lime and sriracha brightened the entire bowl.
Adapted from Guest Chef Series on Blue Apron by Mei Lin