I was in Hong Kong last week. It was cold on the Christmas eve. We didn't go for feast on the eve of Christmas. Max brought me all the way to Shatin just to eat 强记鸡粥 instead, because I had been talking about it since months ago. It was good. And here (below photo), this is the actual 强记鸡粥. The one above is my replication.
If you watch TVB show or dramas, you probably know 沙田鸡粥 Shatin chicken congee, as it always appear on TV since 80's. If you've been to Shatin for Keung Kee chicken congee (强记鸡粥), you will know why people come back for it's congee. The congee texture is silky smooth and chicken pieces are nice to eat as they are well marinated with salt.
Congee is well known as one of Hongkie's supper choice. Usually, congee shops in Hong Kong will open till midnight or more than that. For 强记鸡粥, they open till 3am.
I had been asking around, included two Hongkie friends of mine, just to find out more on how to cook up a pot of good Hong Kong style congee. The silky smooth, gluey and creamy kind of white porridge, which we usually called it as 明火白粥 'ming foh bak zhok'. I even tried a few congee stall in Hong Kong. Actually, almost all of them are good. The difference is probably whether the chef will add MSG into their pot of white beauty or not.
After I finished my congee at 强记鸡粥, I peeped into their kitchen, and saw a big bag of Jasmine rice (茉莉米) and a small bag of glutinous rice (糯米) at the side. For instance, I have two questions in my mind. And I ask my Hongkie friend for answer.
1) 澳洲丝苗米 is supposed to be the most ideal rice grain to cook up a pot of good Hong Kong style porridge. But how come 强记 used 茉莉米 instead?
Answer : Maybe it is due to cost. 强记 expanded to 22 outlets in Hong Kong now. 澳洲丝苗米 is much more expensive.
2) What has that bag of 糯米 got to do with the 茉莉米? Are they mixed together in order to cook up their successful pot of porridge?
Answer : 糯米 probably has got nothing to do with that pot of porridge. To cook up a good pot of 明火白粥, flame control and long cooking time is the main factor.
In order for me to cook a pot of reasonably good congee, I think it is important for me to understand ahead. I fell sick after I came back from Hong Kong. And this gives me perfect reason to cook congee! I love congee by the way.
I walk to the nearest Giant and bought a fresh kampung chicken at S$7.50. This chicken is skinny. And it smells good after it is cooked. I kinda like it! It is not easy to find a good kampung chicken (as in real kampung chicken) in Singapore nowadays.
Although it is just a pot of congee. But in order to cook it properly, I won't pretend that this is easy. Ingredients are simple tho. All you need here is abit of patience and time.
Recipe (Serves 4 to 6)
(Source : 沙田鸡粥 with modification)
- 150g Jasmine Rice (茉莉米), or 澳洲丝苗米 for better choice
- 4500ml Water, or more
- 1 Fresh Chicken, preferably Kampung Chicken
- ½ tsp Salt + 1½ tbsp Salt (I'm using Sea Salt)
- 1 tbsp Cooking Oil
- a thumb sized ginger, finely julienned
- some spring onions
- If you have 澳洲丝苗米, please use it as it is better choice. In Singapore, we can't get 澳洲丝苗米. So, I can only use Jasmine rice.
- The ratio between rice and water is around 1 : 30, or more water.
- You need a stainless steel pot with high in body for ideal congee cooking.
- Of course, you need to go to the market to get a fresh chicken early in the morning.
- Boil 4500ml water in a pot. Once water is boiled, hold the chicken head (refer to photo) and soak the chicken body into the boiling water. With your hand still holding the chicken head, pull the chicken up, and soak it in again. Do this for 4 to 5 times before you release the chicken head and let the chicken soak into the water completely. By doing this, water will go into the chicken body completely. This is to ensure that the chicken is well cooked too.
- Keep an eye on the pot. Once you see the water is boiling again, heat off, and let the chicken sit inside the hot water untouched and covered for 15mins. If your chicken is big, you might need another 5 mins. For this part, you have to gauge it on your own.
- Prepare a tub of ice-cold water, preferably with ice cubes. Once chicken is cooked, using chopsticks, gently remove the chicken from the water and place the chicken into the ice water.
- Once chicken is completely cooled, drain. Apply 1½ tbsp salt inside out, and all over the chicken. Set aside and let it marinade.
Step 2 : Hold the chicken head and soak the chicken body into the boiling water.
Step 3 : Gently remove the chicken from the water and place the chicken into the ice water.
Method (for congee)
- Wash rice and drained. Add in ½ tsp Salt and 1 tbsp Cooking Oil to marinade the rice. Marinade it for 2 hours. Or at least 1 hour if you don't have time.
- With the water that I used to cook the chicken, reheat it under high heat. Once it is boiled, add in marinated rice. Still under high heat, let it boil for 1 hour without lid.
- After 1 hour, reduce heat to medium high and let it boil for another hour. You may add some water in-between if you want. But don't forget to give it a stir.
- Once porridge is cooked, add in some ginger, and salt to taste. Give it a stir.
- It is important to use high heat to cook the porridge at the beginning. When the water boils under high heat, the rice grain dances in the water. And this explains why the porridge won't stick at the bottom when high heat is used.
- I cook my porridge for 2 hours only. I knew it is not enough. To boil a pot of good Hong Kong style porridge, you need at least 4 hours. But I think it only makes sense to boil it for 4 hours if I'm cooking for 12 or more. Agree?
- Chop marinated chicken into pieces. Place it into a claypot. Add more ginger if you want.
- Pour hot porridge over. Put the claypot on flame and bring the congee to a boil.
- Garnish with spring onion. Serve immediately.
Put the claypot on flame and bring the congee to a boil.
And Shatin Chicken Congee.... DONE!
The texture of the congee is pretty well cooked, although the cooking time is 2 hours only. I have to admit that my congee is not as smooth as compared to 强记's one. But it is indeed creamy and glossy. I like it! The two hours stove cooking is worth it! And oh! I have to confess... I always use rice cooker to cook my porridge by the way. It is the lazy way. But for this 明火白粥, I can't.
Do try it out!
I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest ( Hong Kong + Macau ) – Jan+Feb Month hosted by Annie of Annielicious Food