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Congee Hotpot

(Photo by ISO staff)

Congee hotpot, originating in Shunde, Guangdong province, is a fusion of Cantonese rice congee and clear-soup hotpot. Mr. Fanky Lau, manager of Joyful Inn at Shaw College, once operated a restaurant in Panyu. During that time he uncovered many dishes from the surrounding towns of Nanhai, Panyu and Shunde. This winter he introduced Shunde's famous congee hotpot to the CUHK foodscape.

The congee soup base looks thin and clear, without visible grains of rice. Its preparation requires great culinary know-how: the rice is cooked until it forms a thick consistency, transfer the creamiest part into another boiler, add water and simmer until every grain breaks down and takes on a flower-like shape. According to Mr. Lau, a glutinous rice base will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. Only a watery broth is suitable for use in hotpot.

Dipping hotpot ingredients into the congee to cook accentuates the sweetness and succulence of the food because the latter's high boiling point keeps the freshness of the ingredients intact. There is also a proper order to cooking the food: first seafood, then chicken, followed by beef and meat balls, adding flavours from mild to strong to the broth. Vegetables and fungi are dunked into the congee last to soak up the essence of all the previous ingredients.

Cooking food in congee is believed to be healthier. What's even better is that the restaurant gives its diners house-made herbal tea for free, definitely an encouragement for health-conscious gourmands on campus.


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