IF I'm feeling sick or run down, there's a childhood dish that's a guaranteed cure — congee.
Legend has it this meal was created by The Yellow Emperor who also invented Chinese medicine, the compass and calendar, way back in time before Christ.
The health and therapeutic effect of congee is undisputed.
Before superfoods, this ancient Chinese dish reigned-supreme. It uses ancient herbs like ginger and garlic which are packed with antioxidants to cleanse out the toxins.
This beloved meal is eaten throughout Asia, in China, Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong to name a few.
In times of famine and drought, the rice porridge was served to the poor.
The beauty of congee is that it can be stretched with some water and made with whatever is in your pantry.
Like a bowl of corn flakes is to someone living in the west, congee is a breakfast staple for those in the east.
In the modern era, a creamy mild consistency is key.
Congee can be found at most Yum Cha establishments.
For those brave enough to take on the traditional version, try congee with the Thousand Year Old Egg.
Not taken literally, the thousand year old egg is made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt and rice hulls for several weeks or months.
The taste is extremely peculiar at first but over time it becomes part of your eating vocabulary.
For a trick in cooking congee, my mum submerges the rice in water for 10 minutes, allowing the grain to be tender.
The key is to continuously stir all the elements as you go along. First the coriander, then spring onion.
For those looking for a culinary adventure, throw in the diced thousand year old egg.
Combine with a pork mince mixture and stir, stir, stir.
So, the next time a loved one is feeling under the weather, why not turn to a centuries-old dish?
I guarantee their stomach will end up feeling the better for it.
After all, we can trust the man who invented the compass, as a sturdy guide.
For a step-by-step instructional video on how to make this classic Chinese dish, head to tinyurl.com/tranfoodvideos.
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