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Thai Chicken Rice "Congee" or "Porridge" with Prawns & Coriander

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Thai Chicken Rice

Thai Chicken Congee with Prawns & Coriander

D.Schmidt
In Thailand, breakfast often takes the form of soup, noodles, or "congee" (porridge), which is actually a kind of thick rice soup. This chicken-rice soup recipe is a good example, although I am more apt to make it for dinner. It's a soothing, comfort food, and excellent if you're fighting a cold or flu. Whether cooked in a slow cooker, or on the stove, it's extremely easy to make, low in fat and calories, and healthy too (see my substitutions for whole grains).

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 7+ cups chicken broth (serves 3-4); If vegetarian, use vegetable broth or vegetarian "chicken" broth
  • 1 1/2 cups Thai jasmine-scented rice (other types of rice will work too)*
  • 1/2 to 1 cup small fresh or frozen prawns/shrimp (thaw if frozen); OR if vegetarian, 1/2 cup tofu cut into cubes
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), peeled and finely grated
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped if the leaves are large
  • 1/2 to 1 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 to 3 Tbsp. fish sauce (according to taste), OR vegetarian fish sauce
  • TO SERVE:
  • optional: fresh red chillies, sliced OR Thai red chilli sauce
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • white pepper (or substitute black pepper)
  • *Healthy Substitution: You can use a combination of white and brown rice, or add other whole grains (see below).

Preparation:

  1. Although you can make this recipe on the stove, it's easier to use a slow cooker (this way you won't have to keep checking on it, as it needs to cook quite a long time). Place broth and rice in a slow cooker on "high" (or "low" if cooking all day or overnight). Cover and allow to cook for at least 2 hours, or until rice is very soft. Tip: The rice should lose a lot of its form, so that it looks almost like cream of wheat, or very soft, watery rice.
  2. Add prawns to the slow cooker for the last 5 to 10 minutes - just long enough to cook them.
  3. If the soup becomes too thick, add a little more broth or water.
  4. Add 1 Tbsp. of the fish sauce plus the ginger, and stir. Do a taste test for saltiness, adding up to 2 Tbsp. more fish sauce if not salty enough. (If too salty, add 1-2 Tbsp. lime juice). Note: Keep in mind that you'll be adding a little soy sauce to the soup before eating, which will also add to the saltiness.
  5. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh coriander, basil, and spring onion.
  6. Serve with pepper and the sauces mentioned above (red chilli sauce or fresh cut red chilli, soy sauce, and sesame oil), allowing your family or guests to add their own according to taste. (I usually add 1 to 2 tsp. soy sauce, 1/2 to 1 tsp. sesame oil, plus a little pepper to mine, for example.)
  7. Leftover Tip: This soup always thickens with time. When preparing the leftovers, simply heat up in a pot on the stove, adding as much broth as necessary to achieve the right consistancy (you will have to stir it quite a lot to break up the rice).
  8. If using whole grains: Just be aware they may have to cook a little longer than regular white rice. However, the taste is just as good. In fact, these days I always make this recipe with a mixture of brown and white rice plus whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, etc...- it's delicious!

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