Introduction: Dried Scallop Congee
It was gray and chilly, and everyone at home was still full by lunch time, so I decided to make a light, but warm, lunch. The two main ingredients in this porridge (also known as 江 瑤 柱 粥) are just leftover rice and dried scallops, but the result is oh-so-yummy. The dried scallops, or conpoy, lend a distinctive sweet sea salt flavor to the congee when you let the conpoy and rice mingle in the pot for a good while. I'm not going to give you many measurements because that's the way my grandma taught me to make this.
Step 1: Dried Scallops!
You can find dried scallops in little plastic packages in Asian food markets. Sometimes, they even sell them bulk in a huge bucket where you get to pick the individual scallops.The good ones have a vibrant color, and resemble a densely packed bundle of strings. If you squeeze the scallop a little using your fingers, it shouldn't immediately fall apart. Generally, the dried scallops are soaked in water before you use it in a recipe, so go ahead and grab a small handful. Give them a rinse, then stick them in a bowl of hot water for say, 10 minutes.
Step 2: Rice Rice Rice
Scoop all your cooked rice in a deep saucepan. I had roughly 2(?) cups of cooked rice. Fill the saucepan with cold water until it covers the rice. You can always add more water later.
Step 3: Boil
Now dump in your dried scallops, water and all, with the rice/water mix. Why? Because the you don't want to waste all that yummy scallop essence that is infused in the soaking water. Cover and cook over medium heat until it boils.
Step 4: Season
Add some white pepper (to balance out the seafood-y flavor) and a generous sprinkling of salt while stirring. You might want to add a pinch of chicken flavoring to bring out the sweetness. You might be wondering why there isn't any soy sauce in this. Since this dish is really simple, you want to taste the mild tasty taste of the dried scallops instead of the slightly sour taste of the soy sauce.
Step 5: Slurp!
If you want to make the porridge thicker, turn off the stove and let it sit covered for a bit. This will mush-ify the rice a bit more and release the starchy stuff that makes it goopy. The dried scallops should have been pulled apart by now and evenly dispersed in the congee. The dried scallops give the otherwise boring porridge some chewy bits with lots of flavor. Enjoy!
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