The weather in Hong Kong has dipped below 18 and I often wake up freezing. I officially regret not buying a heater for the home. It looks like it's going to be colder this weekend. Oh the cost of being miserly.... brrrr. Guess one turns to food... but no-carb congee? Is that even a thing?
Our home is still bare bones. It has been a long wait with a bit of delay with the shippers but this weekend, we should see our effects delivered. I cannot wait. As it is, the apartment gets really cold when temperatures hit below 60F / 15ºC which is pretty much every other day. I am constantly in long johns and mostly keeping my feet wrapped in house fluffy slippers or socks.
And because it is cold, one tends to veer towards hearty soupy eats. I've been dreaming of fish soup. The peppery kind with ginger slices that warms even the coldest of hearts. I have had to re-orientate myself since the relocation, to cook without the use of an oven. Chinese cooking can be a very messy and violent affair. I remember as a kid watching with wonder as the street side hawker chef fires up the wok and tossing sauces, condiments and all kinds of things he can grab, like an octopus at work, clanging away while wiping the sweat off his brow with the white cotton towel drapped over the other shoulder. It was always loud, percussive, like the chinese opera. You'd hear what sounds like bellow of a beast as the chef fires up the gas and you know you're in for a treat.
I've burnt many good produce since cooking with gas. The heat is way more intense and cooking speed is of utmost importance. One has to be decisive and know what you are doing. No time to ponder and it's simply go time when the fire is up. Pre-planning is important.
For this recipe. I am combining bit of old school soup making I learnt from a french guy I was working for, in a kitchen in North Melbourne many years ago. And adding my Chinese sense with making congee - except I am not using rice at all. Carb-less congee!
My no-carb version uses cauliflower and chickpeas as the base, quinoa for that rice congee texture, topped with fish rapidly stir fried with ginger, soy and chinese cooking wine. There are a lot of variations you can add or take away from the ingredient list below. You can simply use two cauliflowers if you prefer to have a smoother texture. Omit the quinoa and you'd have a cross between a chowder and smooth congee. You could even make this into a seafood chowder if you like.
No Carb Fish CongeeINGREDIENTS
- 1 cauliflower
- 2 cups canned/cooked chickpeas
- 1 onion, chopped
- Several cloves of garlic, as much as you like
- 300 - 500g/ 1 lb Cod Fish or any substitute, sliced
- 1 Chinese Cabbage (Wombok), thinly sliced
- Ginger, thinly sliced
- Ginger minced/finely chopped
- 1 - 2 tbsp unsalted Butter (preferably from grass-fed cows)
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 2 tbsp Chinese (Hua Tiao) Cooking Wine
- 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
- Cut out all florets and stalk of the cauliflower, removing any greens.
- Fill a medium sized pot with water up to half way mark and add onion, garlic, chickpeas, cauliflower florets and stalk. Make sure the water does not submerge all ingredients. Water level should be just below the top of the ingredients in the pot.
- Place over stove and bring to a boil. After several minutes, reduce to low simmer, cover pot and let simmer for 15 minutes. After that, set aside, removing cover, to stand and cool.
- While you wait for the pot to simmer, start on the quinoa. Cook quinoa as you normally would. My personal preference is to toast them with a little coconut oil/butter then add water (1:1 ratio) to the quinoa and slow simmer till the quinoa is curly and water has dried up somewhat. About 15 - 20 minutes. Always wash quinoa before cooking to remove the muddy taste. You can afford to have the quinoa a little wetter than usual as you'd be adding it to the pot later.
- When the cauliflower pot has cooled considerably, either mash contents with a masher or transfer to a blender/food processor and blend till you get a smooth consistency.
- Transfer back to pot, add butter, cooked quinoa and set over low heat. Keep stirring till butter melts. Leave it on low simmer for 10 - 15 minutes or until the soup is piping hot.
- While you wait for the soup base to heat, start on the fish. In a non-stick pan/wok, add a little oil and set over high heat. Once oil heats, immediately toss in minced ginger, stirring for several seconds, followed by the fish.
- Add chinese cooking wine and soy sauce and let liquid sizzle in hot pan for further several seconds. This will seal in the flavour. At this stage the fish should be medium rare.
- Add sliced cabbage covering all the fish and cover pan. Wait for about a minute, then reduce to low heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
- To serve up, transfer cauliflower soup base into a soup bowl and top with stir fried fish and cabbage. Garnish with sliced ginger and drizzle with sesame oil and dash of white pepper.
- You may also add soy, pepper, spring onions, coriander Mix well with a large spoon and eat up!
Takes , Serves 4 or more.
If you enjoyed this, you would also enjoy my recipe of low carb century egg congee, also without using any rice.
Asian Australian food adventures in and out of the kitchen. Around the world. Like an oyster searching for it's pearl.