Gochujang Spiced Fish with Congee
Dim sum is my husband’s favorite version of brunch, and possibly the best way to recover from a long night out. When we were first dating, he took me to a place in Chinatown without one English word on the menu. I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to food, but that’s kind of the point I have to give it up. I told him to order whatever he liked.
When the second plate to came to the table, I was already regretting it. An interesting smelling bowl of mush arrived, and when I looked at him with my stink face, he said “I guess…fish porridge would be the right name.” Mmmmm fish porridge. To my complete and utter shock, it was freaking delicious!
For the uninitiated, congee is a traditional Chinese porridge (called ‘Jook’ in Cantonese) that is basically made by cooking rice with more water for much longer than you normally would. The proper consistency is totally dependent on your personal taste. Sometimes it’s practically a soup, for this recipe I left it a bit thicker. You can add just about anything too it! It’s good sweet, spicy, or savory. It can be served it for any meal of the day; any time we have leftovers, my husband likes it for breakfast with fermented duck eggs – which isn’t exactly my thing, but it’s pretty common. If white rice isn’t your jam, you can just as easily make it with brown rice, millet, faro, or a multigrain mixture.
Also, can we talk about Gochujang? You know how when you buy a new car, you all of the sudden notice how many people drive that exact same car? That’s kind of how my gochujang experience went. I was at a Korean restaurant with some friends, and on the table was the best dang hot sauce I’ve ever had. It was everything! The waitress informed me it was Gochujang, made from fermented chilis and soy. I was amazed I had never had or heard of it. Then all of the sudden, I noticed Gochujang being used on some of my favorite cooking shows, showing up in random recipes, and it was available at pretty much every Korean restaurant I like to frequent. Weird, right?
Whisk the marinade ingredients until well combined, then place in a large ziploc bag with the fish filets. Place the fish in the fridge and let marinate until your congee is almost done).
Rinse your rice well, then put it in a large saucepan with 3 cups of water. Make sure there is plenty of room in the pot, as your congee will expand a bit as it's cooking. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer.
Cover the rice and simmer, stirring often, until the grains start to break down and the rice is the consistency of porridge. It should take about an hour, maybe a bit more, depending on how thick you like your congee. The proper consistency depends entirely on your personal taste. If you like it a bit smoother, you may need to add more water.
Once the congee is almost finished, start cooking the fish. Heat a cast iron griddle or non-stick pan over medium-high heat and give it a light spray of cooking oil. Cook the fish for about 5 minutes on each side, or until it starts to blacken around the edges. Don't worry if your fish starts to break apart, you'll be flaking it up a bit before serving. Remove from the heat when finished and set aside.
Wash the Bok Choy well, and chop into bite sized pieces. Heat 2 T. of ginger oil in a nonstick skillet until it begins to smoke a bit, then cook the bok choy until it the leaves turn dark green and the stems are a translucent.
Spoon the congee into a bowl or rimmed plate, top with fish, bok choy and the chives. Serve Immediately.