Congee Bowls

I love congee made in a Chinese clay cooking pot in the middle of winter, cooked on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A large batch is sometimes cooked and stored in the fridge. In this way it is available night and day, for late night suppers or early morning breakfast. Congee was once a very popular dish but it has fallen out of fashion. We have been making it since 2003, and thankfully it has not fallen out of fashion in our household.

There are lots of congee recipes around – almost every Asian cookbook you pick up has one in it. I first cooked it at home  as I loved the late night congee in Sydney’s China Town. So good. Short grain rice is best. One cup of rice made a huge amount – enough for 4 – 6 bowls of it. So be careful the first time that you make it to ensure that you are not making enough for your whole suburb!!! Congee can be eaten at any time of the day – it has become a popular breakfast food for Southern Chinese and midnight snacks for Singaporeans & Malaysians. So eat it first thing, last thing, or anywhere in between.

Congee Bowls, in our household, are bowls of congee topped with a range of delicious accompaniments – herbs, tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, crispy onions and garlic, steamed beans, mushrooms, Asian greens – the list is endless and any combination can be used, depending on the season, the weather, your mood, the time of day and the available ingredients. Congee flavour is always up to you!

Congee is eaten throughout Asia, from Japan right down to Indonesia. Each one varies a little from the others, but all are made with boiled rice, lentils or beans. However, the name for this dish originated in India – from the Tamil kanji. Perhaps also from the Telugu and Kannada gañji, the Malayalam kanni and the Urdu ganji. All meaning, more or less, boiling. The earliest reference can be traced back to the Zhou dynasty (circa 1000BC). It is also mentioned in the Chinese Record of Rites (1st century AD) and noted in Pliny’s account of India circa AD77.

Similar recipes include Sweet Congee with Poached Oranges, Red Rice with Adzuki Beans Congee, Cracked Wheat and Mung Dal Kitchari, and Quinoa Porridge.

You might like to browse our Rice recipes, and Porridge recipes. Or check out our easy Mid Winter recipes.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can explore more of the Retro Recipes series, our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.

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Steamed Tofu with Bok Choy and Sesame

Steamed tofu is the antithesis of the punchy, in-your-face flavours of my usual Indian cuisine. Almost bland, it is gloriously so, adding creamy texture to its accompaniments. In this case we use bok choi (pak choi) and a soy sauce-seasame-mirin dressing. You do have to be willing to enjoy the subtlety of flavours to appreciate this dish. It is not something that would do well on Master Chef, for example, however we love steamed tofu.

We also have a variation to this dish where shiitake and oyster mushrooms are quickly sauteed and added to the tofu. This is inspired by an incredible dish of steamed tofu and mushrooms at the Whole Earth restaurant in Chiang Mai –  Three Flavour Tofu Topped with Shiitake Mushrooms.

Similar recipes include Curry Laksa with Fried Tofu, Kaffir and Tamarind Tofu, and Tofu and Spinach Layers.

Browse all of our Tofu dishes and all of our Bok Choi recipes. Or be inspired by our other Late Winter dishes.

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Thai Silken Tofu with Bean Sprouts and Broth

I remember David Thompson when he had a tiny little take-away Thai shop in Darley St, appropriately called Daley St. Thai. He was famous even then, the queue snaking down the street on a Friday and Saturday night. He then went on to open a high-end restaurant London (where his food was never understood – you lost out London). Then he moved to Thailand to open a Thai restaurant – a brave move for a non-Thai person. It remains a very popular establishment.

Somewhere along the line, David wrote a bible of Thai food. It is a compendium of the cuisine. Of course, there are very few vegetarian recipes in the book, but occasionally I take it down from the shelf and find one of the few suitable recipes to make, as Thai food is wonderful.

Today, with inspiration from David’s Thai Food, is a wonderful dish of soft tofu with garlic and bean sprouts. It is utterly delicious.

Similar dishes include Steamed Tofu with Bok Choi and Sesame, Curry Laksa with Fried Tofu, Baked Marinated Tofu, and Tofu and Spinach Layers.

Browse all Tofu dishes and all Thai recipes. Or explore our Mid Winter food.

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Miso and Tofu Dipping Sauce and Dressing

We love our dipping sauces, ones that an be used as dressings and sauces as well. This one, another recipe from a pack of miso, is wonderful. It takes soft tofu and blends it with miso, garlic and saké. Yum!

Similar dishes include Miso and Tahini Sauce, Miso Sesame Dressing, and Chilli Miso and Sesame Sauce.

Browse all of our Miso recipes and all of our Dipping Sauces and Dressings. Or explore our Early Winter dishes.

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Curry Laksa with Fried Tofu

Talk about a meal in a bowl, Laksa is the bomb. Anyone who has been to S.E. Asia will have had this dish in street stalls, fragrant, hot, and spicy. The good news is, it is not so hard to make at home. Perhaps some of the optional additions that are available in roadside stalls are not common in other countries, but you can replicate the fragrance and spiciness of the dish.

In this recipe, a spice paste is made by blending the ingredients then cooking it off slowly before adding stock and other flavour enhancing ingredients. This beautiful broth is served with noodles, sprouts, herbs and other toppings.

This recipe is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Thai Silken Tofu with Bean Sprouts and Broth, Malay Coconut-Curry Stock (another excellent base for Laksa), and Asian Broth.

Browse all of our S.E. Asian recipes and all of our Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Broth and Dipping Sauce for Japanese Noodles and Tofu

We don’t often make bowls of noodles, but really, I don’t know why. This broth (or dipping sauce) is delicious. Topped with fresh greens, mushrooms, spring onions, the noodles are far too good to ignore. Although we used Japanese noodles for today’s dish, we used Chinese Spinach as our greens, along with cute little pieces of yuba (dried beancurd) tied in knots. I know that you will enjoy this dish.

Use this broth or dipping sauce for any noodle dish or tofu dish, or for anything else that you would like to use a broth or dipping sauce with. Kept fairly thick, it makes a great dressing too, for Asian style salads.

Japanese Noodles are served cold in summer and hot otherwise, in a broth or with a dipping sauce. The broth or dipping sauce can be made up to a week before use. We make our own vegetarian dashi (stock) for the sauce with handful of dried mushrooms, some dried seaweed and light miso paste.

Similar recipes include Miso and Tahini Sauce, Spread and Dressing, Soy and Sesame Dipping Sauce, and Sesame Ginger Dipping Sauce.

Are you looking for other Noodle recipes? Have a look at the wealth of noodles available. Try Persian Noodles with Eggplant, Saffron and KashkKitsu Udon.

You might also like our to explore our Dipping Sauces, Noodle recipes and  Japanese dishes. Or check out our collection of Late Spring recipes.

This recipe is from our Retro Recipes series, vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006. It is a recipe we still use often, when we feel in a noodle mood.

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Sticky Kaffir and Tamarind Tofu

Sadly, many people believe tofu is boring. Perhaps recipes like this one are secret, locked away from view unless you have the password or know the secret phrase to say. An easy dish to make, the tofu is marinated in tamarind, kaffir leaf and lemongrass with sweet soy sauce for half an hour, and then sauteed until it forms a crust on the outside. The marinade is reduced to a sticky sauce which coats the seared tofu.

Similar recipes include Thai Silken Tofu with Bean Sprouts and Broth, Curry Laksa with Fried Tofu, Black Pepper Tofu, Baked Marinated Tofu, and Deep Fried Tofu with Peanut Sauce.

Browse all of our Tofu recipes and all of our Asian dishes. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.

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Baked Marinated Tofu

There is a magnificent Asian grocer near us, their shop is so large it goes on and on. And, well, it has inspired me to play more with tofu. They have every variety from Five Spice Tofu to Deep Fried Tofu, to the hardest firm Tofu to the silkiest Silky Tofu.

For this recipe, I used really firm tofu. It is first marinated then baked for a delightful snack or summery side dish. It is a perfect dish, sticky and dark. Eat with a green mango salad. Or a crunchy, herby, green Asian Style Salad.

You might like to try some other Tofu dishes: Sticky Tamarind and Kaffir Tofu, Peach Salsa with Marinated Tofu; Hou Hod (Deep Fried Tofu with a Sweet Peanut Sauce); and Black Pepper Tofu.

You can browse all of our Tofu recipes here, and our Snack recipes. Or you might like to explore all of our easy Early Summer Recipes.

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Mediterranean Barley with Crispy Tofu

Barley is beautiful, especially in Salads

I am in love with barley at the moment – a great wintery grain that also, strangely, has some cooling properties when used in the warmer months. Not only does it do well in soups, pilafs and vegetable stews, it is an accommodating base for salads.

Ilyse, the amazing artist from the no-longer-existing blog Lucullian Delights, had a wonderful barley and tofu salad for any season. I tweeked it just a little, and it is a perfect salad for summer or for winter.

Do also try Black Pepper Tofu, an exquisite dish from Ottolenghi. Or make Toa Hou Hod, Deep Fried Tofu with a Sweet Peanut Sauce, a Thai dish full of flavour. There is also Baked Marinated Tofu.

Are you looking for other Barley recipes? Try Toasted Barley with Pistachios and Raisins, Barley Pilaf, and Charred Okra with Spiced Tomato Barley. This Parsley and Barley Salad is pretty good too.

You might like to browse other Barley recipes here. Our extensive list of wonderful Salads are here. You might like to see all of our Tofu recipes also. Or simply explore our easy Late Summer Recipes.

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Glazed 5-Spice Tofu Salad with Cucumbers and Radishes

Goodness, the beautiful salads keep on coming. Summer is made for salads – it is a season where little cooking is required. Thank goodness – all the more time to enjoy the long sunny days, the beautiful weather and of course, the beach.

We have eaten more Tofu on the past 6 months than in the past 6 years, I believe. We have the fabulous close-by S.E. Asian supermarket to blame with its endless variety of tofu, packaged and fresh. It is made into salads, dropped into broths, deep fried, and the flavoured ones eaten as-is quite often for a snack.

Today, we are using Five Spiced Tofu, although smoked tofu could be used if you can find it. Or smoke your own! In this salad, we glaze the tofu in a mixture of orange juice and honey – I have used Barley Malt too, so any sweet, syrupy, honey-like pantry item will be suitable.

Some similar recipes include: Steamed Tofu with Bok Choi and Sesame, Black Pepper Tofu, Tofu and Chilli Salad and Tofu Stacks with Sesame and Spinach. And Tofu with a Peanut Sauce is pretty good too. All of our Tofu Salads are here. We also have other Tofu recipes – they are here.

Radish recipes include Braised, Glazed Radishes, and Wombok and Radish Salad with Peanut Dressing.

Have a look at our Cucumber Salads, Radish Salads, and also our Bittman Salads. Or simply spend some leisurely time browsing our Mid Summer Dishes.

Feel free to browse our other Tofu recipes too. All of our Salads are here.

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