I am a fan of oatmeal in general, but I recently discovered a new way to eat it — in place of white rice in a congee.
A congee is kind of like a porridge soup that is savoury with green onions and meat or seafood.
I’m addicted to white rice, so I tend to avoid things liks brown rice or oatmeal in place of white rice in meals, however I am told this is quite bad for me, and while I don’t want to cut out white rice, I want to see if I can trick myself into eating other things.
As I usually make congee with white rice (Japanese short grain rice because it’s stickier, and starchier), and substituting oatmeal didn’t make much of a satisfying, taste difference, which surprised me!
It’s a healthier alternative because it isn’t white rice for one thing, and the other bonus is just how easy it is to prepare.
You could do the prep work the night before in little bowls, leave them in the fridge and have a great, satisfying meal in about 10 minutes.
HOW TO MAKE A CONGEE (25 minutes, max)
- Cup and a half of oatmeal (I eat a lot, you can adjust this to what you like)
- Water (added as you want to make it thicker, or soupier)
- Some good chunks of grouper (my favourite kind of fish to have in congee)
- Soft leafy vegetables (spinach, bok choy, any kind of leafy green veggie)
- Sesame oil
- Diced green onions (sliced very thinly; alternative: shallots are also delicious in a congee)
- Diced ginger (about half a thumb’s worth, more or less, depending on your preference)
- Soya sauce
- [Optional] Egg
PREPARATION 11 minutes (not even)
- Cut up the grouper into 1″ – 2″ sizes (5 minutes)
- Marinate the grouper in sesame oil (about a teaspoon) with a teaspoon of soya sauce (1 minute)
- The longer you let it marinate, the better, but the minimum is half an hour
- Dice the green onions and ginger (very finely so that you don’t get a big bite of either), and set it aside in a separate bowl (5 minutes)
Note: You can peel ginger without a knife. Use a spoon to scrape the thin skin off the ginger, your fingers will thank you.
METHOD OF COOKING (10 minutes)
- Add enough water in a pot to cover the oatmeal and bring it to a boil
- Add the oatmeal
- Cook the oatmeal for about 5 minutes or until it is properly cooked and soft
- Near the end after the oatmeal is super soft, put in the grouper, leafy greens, and the green onions with ginger, and mix it all around until the fish is cooked through (looks white and isn’t flobby or raw looking)
- [Optional] Crack in the egg, and let it sit for 30 seconds, then stir, or skip this step completely
- Pour it out into a bowl and finish it with a swirl of soya sauce
- Finish with some healthy grinds of pepper (I really like white pepper)
- Eat and make happy noises throughout the meal while your family members give you strange looks
It should pretty much look like this in the end:
OTHER RIFFS ON THE SAME MEAL
Obviously you can do the same recipe but with white rice instead, but I’m really liking this oatmeal alternative.
You can do this with any kind of fish, salmon is nice too, but I find it a bit strong for such flavours, which is why I like grouper.
Don’t like fish? Use prawns (the good, big ones), sliced chicken or beef (marinated in the same preparation above) instead.
Don’t eat meat or seafood? Crack in an egg and add more vegetables, let it sit for 30 seconds, then stir it around (that way you get chunks of egg rather than it blending into a rich soup).
Don’t eat eggs either? Just chop in some vegetables (leafy greens work best). It tastes equally as good without meat or eggs, because the soya sauce adds some good flavour with the sesame oil.