” It’s an agent of both calmness and arousal, a stimulating congee. “
Around this time of the year with its cold crisp air, with it carrying a smell of memory that I can’t seem to grapple, I am loosened and adrift. I feel like anchoring to a sleeved cup of coffee with both hands, and wander aimlessly on the street decorated with relentless sparkles. Like an old lady who has lost something but couldn’t remember what. My fingertips are toasty, the coffee sleeve too thin… I’m a child to be fetched.
This, of course, could be seasonal sentimentality talking. But also possibly early, really early onset alzheimer. Both equally dangerous.
I’ve been meaning to cook something that satisfies my overindulged melancholy, something to be eaten after I sing me a river to skate away on and stare out the window for no apparent reasons. Something to part from the perception that congee or porridge – still in my mind, the perfect comfort food – is bland and monochromatic, but at the same time celebrates the fact that it is nourishing, consoling, and the food-equivalent of very expensive therapists.
I started with a very clean, water-based miso broth as the foundation of a soothing but flavorful congee, then dribbled on pockets of excitements from crispy scallions and garlic chips fried in olive oil, quick-pickled shallots and lightly whipped heavy cream. The miso congee is thick, enwrapping, but appropriately lubricated by the luscious mouthfeel of the herbaceous olive oil and the cool sweetness of cream, with a cadence of brightness from the crisped scallions and garlic, tangy shallots and the occasional burst of pain from finely minced pickled bird’s eye chilis. It’s an agent of both calmness and arousal, a stimulating congee. Break a soft-boiled egg on top and it’s a legit meal.
It’s the kind of stuff I crave around this time. And I suspect you, too.