congee is one of my favorite “it’ll be fine” dishes. For me, it has the same grounding power as a perfect-temperature cup of tea or a bath after a long day. It’s nice to cook and eat when flavors don’t feel abrasive or overly interesting, and it’s light, firm, and endlessly customizable. For all of these reasons, it’s my #1 recipe for 2023. Even if you don’t need it right now, treat it like a tool you can use when needed.
Celery with braised mushrooms
I made this recipe to use a whole head of celery (most of it goes into the base, the rest is in the pickle) and then the mushrooms, which have been soaked to make gravy, are used in a quick roast, so there’s no waste. If you want to simplify the recipe and flavors, drop in the pickle or roast, and top the congee with vegetables or other seasonings you have in the fridge.
to equip 10 minutes
cook 45 minutes
500 grams of celerybase, removed (420 grams)
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
6 tablespoons of mirin
25 grams of dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons (30 g) of white miso paste
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 brown onionPeeled and cut into small cubes
2 green onionscut into thin slices, separating the eggs from the greens
5 garlic clovesPeeled and finely chopped
1½ teaspoon sea salt
2″ x 2″ handle of fresh gingerPeeled and grated
150 grams of jasmine rice
2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
½ tablespoon of dark soy sauce
Buy fried onionsto finish (optional)
Prepare the pickle first. Thinly slice a third of the celery, put it in a small bowl with the rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons of the marinade, stir and set aside. Cut the remaining celery sticks into small 1-cm cubes and set aside.
Place the mushrooms in a heat-resistant measuring jug, pour over 750ml of the just-boiled water and set aside while you prepare all the other ingredients. When the mushrooms are cool enough to bear, squeeze them out of the water and set them to one side. Carefully and slowly pour the mushroom broth into another jug, leaving behind any grains in the bottom of the first jug, then stir in the miso and 2 tablespoons of the mirin.
Put the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, and when it gets hot, add the onions, green onion whites, garlic, salt, and sauté, stirring so that they don’t turn brown, for four minutes. Add the celery and ginger cubes, and sauté for five minutes, stirring again, then add the rice, mushroom broth and 600ml of water. Bring to a boil, removing any scum, if desired, then unscrew the lid, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
While the congee is boiling, make the mushroom braised. Slice the soaked mushrooms, then place them in a small saucepan with the dark and light soy sauces and the remaining 2 tablespoons of mirin. Bring to a simmer, then bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the liquid has blended the mushrooms and there is no liquid left in the bottom of the pan.
Place the congee into individual bowls, layer with a quarter of the braised mushrooms, a pinch of pickled celery, reserved scallions, and sautéed onions, if using, and serve hot.