A warming and grounding recipe to introduce into your homes!
My favourite thing about this recipe is that it requires no oil! There’s nothing wrong with using good quality oils - in fact, we need the healthy fats of olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, butter and so on. They add flavour, texture and bring depth to certain dishes. But I do find that these days, it is almost impossible to cook a hearty meal without oil. So when I was able to make this without reaching for a dark bottle of whatever oil I have in the cupboard, I was delighted to say the least!
Congee is commonly eaten in Chinese culture as a breakfast dish. The root word itself comes from a Tamil word kanji, and it was consumed by Tamil people in ancient India. Variations on congee are consumed in Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam! In many of these amazing countries, congee is eaten as a health food during sickness and convalescence due to its high nutritional content and easy digestibility.
I love shiitake mushrooms because they have an incredibly delectable meaty texture. It’s medicinal properties are also out of this world! Shiitake (and other medicinal mushrooms) contain beta-glucans which are polysaccharides (sugar molecules) responsible for the wondrous healing properties. The beta-glucan specific to shiitake is called lentinan, which has anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-mutagenic, anti-fungal and immunostimulatory properties.
A 2015 study in 52 healthy males and females, aged 21-41 years, eating 5-10g of shiitake mushrooms daily for 4 weeks resulted in:
Increased T-cell proliferation (a type of white blood cell; has a central role in the immune system).
Increased natural killer cell proliferation (a type of white blood cell; important role in immunity against viruses and in the immune surveillance of tumors).
Increased secretory IgA (an antibody that plays an important role in mucosal immunity).
Caused a shift towards a less inflammatory cytokine profile (reduced inflammation).
If you cannot find shiitake mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms are a great alternative. They are a source of B vitamins and bioavailable vitamin D.
Chicken and Ginger Congee Recipe
Ingredients for congee:
1 cup of organic white rice
7 cups of chicken bone broth or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons of shredded ginger (fresh or frozen)
200g of chestnut or shiitake mushrooms
A pinch of black seeds
Spring onions (for topping)
Toasted sesame oil (for topping; optional)
Ingredients for the chicken thighs:
2 organic chicken thighs with skin
¼ cup of tamari
Half a teaspoon of chilli flakes
Half a teaspoon of garlic powder or 2 small crushed garlic cloves
Chicken thighs prep and recipe
Add all the ingredients to chicken thighs
Stir well and marinate in fridge for at least 3 hours
When the chicken is ready to cook, put the oven on gas mark 6 (200°C)
Place the chicken on a dish, skin side up, and cook on a middle-low shelf for 45 minutes
After 45 minutes, turn the temperature up to gas mark 7 (220°C), place the chicken on the highest shelf in the oven and cook for 12 minutes - this will get the skin deliciously crispy
Turn the temperature down again to gas mark 4 (170°C), bring the chicken down to a lower shelf, and cook for an additional 7 minutes to ensure it is cooked through
Soak rice for an hour
Wash and rinse the rice well
Slice mushrooms into strips (around 3mm thick)
Add washed rice to a large pot, along with ginger, black seeds and broth and bring to a boil
Stir through and once boiled, stir the rice, add the mushrooms and allow it to cook on low heat for 45 minutes
Keep the rice covered with a lid and ensure to stir often to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot or burning
Add a little more water if necessary
Cook the rice through until the congee is thick and creamy
Serve the congee in a bowl, place a piece of chicken on top with a few tablespoons of the sauce and top with chopped spring onions and a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil.