Eaten since the Zhou dynasty in 1000 B.C., congee has always been a staple growing up. Memories of simmering pots and freshly chopped scallions are familiar in many households. To explain the rice-based dish to the uninitiated, though, can be a difficult task.
After all, the sound of of the word “porridge” alone doesn’t elicit the most attractive image of food. In its most earnest form, it is comprised of rice boiled in water until it softens and begins to disintegrate. But it is so much more than that. Congee is a versatile dish: filling breakfast, hangover helper, easy lunch or dinner side dish. The charm of this grain bowl lies in the fact that it can be composed of anything. It was a means to make sure that no food went to waste.
Five years ago, Tim Carman interviewed Scott Drewno, executive chef at The Source, in which he theorized that the word “congee” doesn’t mean much to most Americans. “If I write ‘congee’ [on the menu], people aren’t going to order it because they don’t know what it is,” Drewno says. “It’s not mainstream enough.” And he’s right.
To help bring congee into the spotlight, our Nolita chef, Calvin Eng, will be bringing his take—Ducky Congee—at the pass. Featuring roast duck, the bowl is dressed with salted radish, scallion oil, cured duck yolk, and finished with scallions, fried shallots, and a Chinese doughnut (youtiao).
Catch us in Brooklyn this Saturday beginning at 6PM when we take over Humboldt & Jackson’s kitchen for one night only! Details on the evening’s menu can be found on our Facebook event page.