Introduction: Millet Smoked Fish Congee
Warning: I was unable to do a short introduction. If you are only interested in this recipe, you can choose to skip paragraphs before the last paragraph.
Millet was the staple in people's life in where I was born. It is completely gone in my diet once I came to America. In its place is white rice, at least in one meal a day, if not in all three meals, until my son was born. He was born with low birth weight with no medical explanation. As soon as I brought him home, I knew something is wrong with him. He pooped too many times a day, actually every second of a day because every time I checked his diaper, there was poop stain on the spot where his anus contacts diaper, no matter how many times I checked in a day. I panicked at the thought of him wearing diapers for his whole life and immediately scheduled a pediatrician GI Specialist.
The doctor found invisible blood in his poop. One diagnosis is food protein allergy, possibly cow milk protein, through breast milk. The other possibility is Hirschsprung's disease. He simply told me it was impossible to figure out what is his allergy and I should forget breast feeding my son. He was almost right except that I do not like it when people told me what I can do or can't do and four months later by accident we found out what is exactly my son's food allergy.
I took an unanswered medical issue into my own hands. I researched common food allergies and started the most restricted elimination diet. I ate only sweet potato, turkey, and white rice every day. And I ate white rice three times a day during that time for two reasons. One, rice is so easy to cook. Two, white rice is said to be non-allergenic. Who has heard rice allergy? Many baby's first solid food is rice cereal for the same reason of being non-allergenic.
After two months of low protein and high carbohydrates diet and breast feeding, both my baby and I suffered greatly. (With several months more of low protein and high carbohydrates diet, I became pre-diabetic. It's a long story) My son developed severe proctitis that further mimics symptoms of Hirschsprung's disease. He had to go through very traumatic colon suction biopsy at two months old. Unfortunately, the biopsy was not successful. Hirschsprung's disease was not ruled out. It circled in our home for several more months and almost sucked my life away. My son was placed on an exclusive element formula. This time I followed doctor's order. I continued on the elimination diet and pumped and stored the milk for my son for later because if he would be confirmed to have Hirschsprung's disease, breast milk would save his life.
After two months on the element formula, my son developed acid reflex and was having trouble keeping his feedings down. The same G.I. doctor prescribed 1 table spoon rice cereal to 1 ounce of formula to thicken the formula so it is hard for it to come up after feeding. As a cook, I imagined that will make the formula too thick to be sucked from a bottle by a baby. Plus, you're not to introduce a large amount of any new food to a baby who has unidentified food allergy. After several calls, the doctor said "simple and clear, 1 table spoon rice cereal to 1 ounce of formula". Again, I did not follow the doctor's instruction, I used only 1 tea spoon rice cereal in 3 oz of formula. By not following his advice this time, I essentially saved my son's life. Because after that 1 tea spoon of rice cereal, my son had 10 orange bloody diapers in 12 hours. Had I fed him 3 table spoon rice cereal, I could have killed him. He is allergic to RICE. Everything started to make sense. He had low birth weight probably because he was reacting to rice in my diet even before birth. He had such severe proctitis that mimics symptoms of Hirschsprung's disease because the constant infliction to his colon caused by rice.
Because of my son's rice allergy, millet came back to my life again and for good. This recipe is a result of that process.
Congee is a Chinese way of cooking white rice in which the starch breaks down and you are left with a wonderfully satisfying base to which you can add all kinds of ingredients. Because my son is allergic to white rice, I have started to replace white rice in our diet with other grains, and millet is one of them. My son's allergy is a blessing in disguise. Because many other grains, especially millet, are nutrients complete, not like white rice. It has high protein and fiber content, is full of minerals, and have great amounts of vitamins without fortification, and is gluten free. If millet isn’t a regular part of your diet, hope this recipe will help you start a new routine in your life journey.
1/2 cup organic millet
6 cups of water
3/4 of it, store bought, remove all bones and spikes
12 oz green beans
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp balsamic drizzle
1/4 tsp sea salt
Blended peppercorns, several grounds
1 tbsp toasted almond shavings for garnish
Note: This article contains affiliate links as references for the same or similar products used in this project. If you click on the links and make purchases I could receive a small amount of commission from the affiliate company with no extra cost to you.
Step 1: Make Millet Congee
Put millet with water in a large saucepan.
Bring it to boil.
Remove lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour, stirring every now and then, until the millet has broken down and the texture is gloopy.
Step 2: Prepare Smoked Fish
Break the whole smoked fish to bite size pieces by removing majority of skin with scales, all large bones and tiny bone spikes.
Step 3: Steam Green Beans
Wash green beans.
Remove stems and broken ends, if any.
Steam it in a double boiler for about 15 minutes.
For presentation purpose, I cut some green beans to logs of the same length and others to shorter logs. Usually I serve steamed green beans whole.
Step 4: Assemble and Eat
Divide the congee into bowls first, and scatter over fish, green beans, and toasted almond shavings in the order.
This recipe is very easy and relaxing to make. It's not over the top fancy but not someone's everyday old meal either. You can replace smoked fish with shrimp, pork, beef, tofu and green beans with spinach, bok choy or other green leaf vegetables, and toasted almond shavings with toasted sesame seeds. Hope you will give it a try and let me know how you like it.
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