Fall/Autumn is here. It’s the season for softened hues, cooler air with hints of earthy smells - which means cozy evenings and hot soups. This isn’t my first Fall of all time, but it’s my first right here in Canada - and Fall in Canada brings to mind two things: 1) Asian flavours, and 2) Healthy, soupy foods. With this, I bring you a Korean recipe that is guaranteed to warm your tastebuds and your heart - Korean Seafood Congee or Juk.
- A handful of dried kelp soaked in 10-15 cups water for at least 30 minutes
- 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup of any type of seafood you like I used frozen mussels, squid, and prawns
- 1 cup carrots diced finely
- 3 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 cup rice washed three times and drained
- Fish sauce to taste or salt
- Some roasted laver/seaweed crushed (for garnishing)
- 1/4 cup green onions chopped (for garnishing)
Soak dried kelp in water in water for at least 30 minutes. I like to prepare more cups of water (more broth) just in case. It’s always good to make more broth as you can freeze the leftovers anyway.
In the meantime, chop up all your vegetables and garlic.
In a rice cooker or deep pot (I’m using a rice cooker to do everything) - heat up 1/2 tablespoon canola oil. Once oil is hot, add garlic and stir gently, mixing with the oil till garlic is golden. Then, add seafood of your choice, as well as carrots, to the fried garlic mixture. Stir gently for about 2-3 minutes to combine. If you’re using a rice cooker, make sure you use a spatula that does not scratch the bottom of the rice cooker.
Remove all the ingredients from the rice cooker or pot (including the juices from the seafood, if any), and transfer into a bowl. Set aside.
Now, dry the rice cooker or pot with a paper towel. Ensure the surface is thoroughly dry.
Make sure the heat is turned on and high, then add 3 teaspoons of sesame oil into the rice cooker or pot. Immediately throw in the uncooked rice, and stir to evenly coat the grains of rice in sesame oil.
Finally, go back to your dried kelp-water. Remove the kelp and set aside. Do not throw the kelp away. See recipe notes below on what to do with the kelp. Pour about 10 cups of broth into the rice cooker/pot and bring the congee to a boil.
When the congee is boiling, add more broth if necessary. If not, add the cooked seafood-garlic mixture into the congee. Allow the congee to boil for a couple more minutes, then turn the heat off. If you’re using a rice cooker, you may want to manually turn it off or switch to the “Keep Warm” setting.
When ready to serve, add some fish sauce or salt to taste.
10. Finally, this is an optional step but I love to add some crushed roasted seaweed on top of my bowl of congee. I’m not a big fan of chopped green onions, but you may add them if you like.
As mentioned in the cooking instructions above, do not throw away the precious kelp. You can make a Korean Cold Kelp Salad (Miyeok Muchin) to go with your congee. It’s a healthy, delicious and fuss-free side dish.
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