A comfort food with variations from across Asia, congee is as surprising as it is simple. Chef Erick Harcey’s take on the rice porridge uses citrus to enhance the rich spot shrimp and crab and a shellfish-fortified chicken broth to draw out even more flavor from the shrimp and crab shells. Comforting and accessible, this dish is perfect for a family meal. Just set out an array of garnishes for each person to customize their own bowl.
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- Reserved shells from ½ pound spot shrimp
- Reserved shells from 2 Dungeness crab clusters
- 1 (2-inch) piece of roughly chopped ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 whole star anise pods
- 8 cups chicken stock
- Crispy Shallot Garnish (Optional):
- 6 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 cup neutral oil
- Salt to taste
- Brown Butter Congee:
- 1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed
- 8 cups fortified stock, divided
- 1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ½ pound shrimp (shells and roe reserved), cleaned and deveined
- Crabmeat from 2 Dungeness crab clusters, about 1 cup (shells reserved)
- ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or mix paprika and cayenne)
- 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons minced tender cilantro stems (reserve leaves for garnish)
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- Sea salt to taste
- Crispy shallots for garnish
- Make the stock: In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add reserved shrimp and crab shells, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, bay leaves, and star anise. Sauté until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard solids.
- Crispy shallot garnish: In a medium saucepan add sliced shallots and pour in oil to submerge. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often with a fork to separate the rings, until shallots are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Once the shallots start to brown, they’ll darken quickly, so don’t walk away from the stove. Drain the shallots, reserving oil, and transfer to paper towel-lined baking sheets. Season with salt and let cool. Reserved shallot oil can be reused for vinaigrettes, stir-fries, and soups.
- Make the congee: In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan combine the rice, 6 cups of the stock, ginger, garlic, white pepper, fish sauce, and soy sauce and bring to a gentle boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking until the mixture is thick and porridge-like, about 60 to 75 minutes, adding more stock as needed.
- Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon butter to a medium skillet on medium-high heat and add shrimp, crab, and Aleppo pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until shrimp curls and begins to turn white. Off the heat, finely grate the lime zest into the skillet and set aside.
- Supreme the lime: Using a sharp paring knife, cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of the lime so it stands upright. With the paring knife, remove the skin and bitter white pith, trying not to remove too much of the flesh. Set the lime on its side and cut toward the center along a membrane. Then slice along the adjacent membrane until the section is released. Continue with the segments. Gently fold in the limes, cilantro stems, and reserved roe (optional) to the shrimp and crab mixture and set aside.
- Make the brown butter: Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring gently, until the milk solids are golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Pour the brown butter into a small bowl to stop the cooking.
- Just before serving, stir the butter into the rice and season to taste with soy sauce.
- Divide the shrimp and crab mixture between 4 bowls and top with the congee. Garnish with cilantro leaves, sliced scallions, and crispy shallots (optional). You can also reserve some of the brown butter to use as a garnish. Suggestions for additional garnishes include thinly sliced raw radish, crispy fried garlic, roasted shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced cabbage, poached eggs, youtiaio (traditional Chinese fried dough), chopped salted peanuts, or any pickled vegetable. Serve immediately.
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