So my wife decided she wanted to make red braised pork shoulder/pork belly for dinner (and I knew we were going to have leftovers). I needed to think about what would go well with the red braised pork leftovers. Well that something was going to be the Iron Chef Morimoto’s Scallop Congee (Morimoto: The New Art Of Japanese Cooking, p.146-148). Among other things, it’s also used with his grilled soy marinated wagyu (see: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/soy-marinated-wagyu-with-congee-ginger-scallion-recipe.html ).
Before I get to the congee, I just wanted to do a quick comparison of how my wife, myself and Iron Chef Morimoto approach this dish (having Iron Chef Morimoto’s version as the standard).
My wife’s braising mix is:……………………..My family’s recipe for the braise is:
6 c water……………………………………………..3 c oz water
3 c soy sauce………………………………………..1 c regular soy
2 pieces of star anise…………………………….1 T dark brown sugar
1 bunch scallions cut in half and mashed..1 bunch scallions, white and green parts (3″ lengths)
4 T sake……………………………………………….8 T chinese rice wine (without added salt] or sake
4 1/4″ thick slices peeled ginger……………..1/2 head garlic peeled
1/2 red chili pepper
commercial red braise powder ‘teabag’ mix
In both cases, we combine the braise mix less the rice wine/sake and bring it to a boil. In the meantime, my family prepares 3 lbs of pork shoulder/butt/belly cut into ~2″ cubes which is seared and transferred into the braise. The searing pan is then deglazed with the sake and the deglazing liquid is also transferred to the braise. The braise is brought back up to boil and then lowered to cook on a simmer (1/3 to 40% max power) for about 1hr/lb meat; alternatively, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F, and place the overproof stock pot in the oven for about 1hr/lb meat. In the case of my family’s recipe (thank you to my late grandmother), around last half hour of cooking, add the sugar and return to cooking.
By comparison, this isn’t Iron Chef Morimoto’s Pork (Belly) Kakuni, but it *IS* something for me to consider next time. His braise is done in 2 passes. The first pass is with the 2 lbs of seared pork belly with 1 1/2 cups of BROWN rice and enough water to cover. The first pass has the braise brought to a simmer using high heat and then immediately transferred to a preheated 250 degree oven for 8 hours. The second pass is transferring the pork belly (without the brown rice) into a boiling braise of 1 3/4 c sake, 1/4 c soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sugar and 4 cups of water. Once the pork is in the braised, the heat’s lowered to a simmer and the pork is braised on low for about 2 hours. Once everything is done, the braise is reduced to 1 cup of ‘syrup’ on high heat (about 10 mins).
So to prepare the scallop congee, I needed to prepare a scallion oil, annoint some rice with the oil and rehydrate some dried scallops. The
original recipe made more than I would normally use in the space of 2-3 weeks.
Scallion Oil (microbatch 1/2 order)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2″ piece of fresh young ginger, peeled and thinly sliced/shredded into 4 pieces
1/2 small onion, peeled and sliced into ribbons
3 scallions, green part only, cut in 1″ lengths
To prepare the scallion oil, all the ingredients were combined into a small sauce pot. The mix was cooked over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until
the onion slices turned a rich golden colour (10 to 15 mins). Once it was done, the solids were strained out (the resulting oil reserved). The oil needed to be cooled to room temperature before using. This can be stored at
room temperature for 2 to 3 weeks.
Before heading off to work, I washed 2 oz (1/4 c) of sushi rice, drained it and annointed it with 2 tablespoons of the scallion oil and mixed the
rice and oil to make sure it was evenly coated and then covered it with plastic wrap. I let it sit out at room temperature until I got home from
When I got home from work, I immediately got into my stash of dried scallops and got some warm water over them and let them sit for about
20-30 minutes. When the scallops were rehydrated, I teased them apart with a dessert fork to get them it a ‘shredded’ state. All I needed to
do now was to combine all the ingredients with 1 3/4 cup of chicken stock (by the way, the chicken stock Iron Chef Morimoto refers to is
made of mirepoix, parsley and thyme) and an equal amount of water.
I got all the ingredients into the pot.
When I took a look, it didn’t seem promising because it looked so watery. But Iron Chef Morimoto said to bring the whole thing to a boil, stirring often. Once it was at a boil, the heat for the congee was to be brought medium-low to be cooked at a brisk simmer. For me – that meant to bring it down 50% max power. And so for the next 45 minutes, I had to check in to stir it uncovered until the rice had broken down into a porridge. About 22 minutes in, it had really thickened up and I reduced the heat to about 30% max power and constantly stirring so it
wouldn’t burn on the bottom. It sort of reminded me of making a risotto (got to keep constantly stirring). I ended up noticing it was ready 9 minutes early. At that point, I tasted and corrected the seasoning by adding 1/2 t + 1/8 t of sea salt.
While all this had been going on, I had been reheating the leftover red braised pork for about 45 minutes on about 1/3 to 40% maxpower and grilling some pencil sized asparagus (simply tossed in olive oil and salt and cooked at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes).
So one plate had grilled asparagus on the bottom to which I added Iron Chef Morimoto’s Scallop Congee and placed a pork belly on the bone on
top. I then drizzled a little of the braising liquid over the whole thing. The other portion was simply going to be the same dish with the
grilled asparagus on the side and just a touch of the braising liquid. I must say how terrific this dish turned out. I can imagine doing this again with Iron Chef Morimoto’s steak with garlic soy jus. It was a surprise how the little bits of scallop brought a deeper umami to the dish.
A couple of questions come to mind. One: how would this taste if the chicken stock was replaced by the shanton broth/stock – would it give it a more ‘chinese’ flavor profile? Two: was the dish inspired by China or Korea – there is a Korean dish call jeonbojuk (abalone congee)? I think the biggest surprise that I got out of this recipe is how filling and how satisfying the 1/4 cup of uncooked rice had become. Thank you Iron Chef Morimoto for sharing this recipe!
Update (16 Jan 2017)
I used shanton stock, rather than the stock Iron Chef Morimoto calls for in the recipe in remaking the congee this evening. I remade this dish in supporting my wife’s red-braised whole chicken legs. The congee turned out really well and really intense in the umami (if that’s possible).