Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dried Scallop Congee with Fa Cai Yu Sheng

Yesterday was the seventh day of the Lunar New Year, traditionally known as ren ri (人日).  In Singapore, many like to celebrate 人日 with tossing of the raw fish salad, yu sheng (鱼生).  This is a colourful salad, consists mainly shredded carrot, shredded radish, colourful pickles and thin slices of raw fish.  The yu sheng is placed at the centre of the table and diners gather around the table, using their chopsticks to toss ("lo hei", Cantonese for 捞起) to a year of abundance and prosperity.   This is indeed an unique dining experience where little children get to "play" with their food (you don't get to toss your food all year round!) and learn a string of accompanying auspicious Chinese New Year greetings while tossing the yu sheng.  

I prepared a nice pot of congee to go with the yu sheng.  The porridge or congee is prepared the Cantonese-style, where it is simmered over low heat for a few hours till all the rice grains breakdown and melt.  The result is a smooth and tasty porridge, naturally thickened on its own without the addition of any cornstarch or potato starch.  You can add fish, chicken or pork to the congee.  Over here, I used fresh scallop and salmon for my seafood congee.

This is a DIY yu sheng, easily prepared at home with packets of shredded carrots and radish from the supermarket.  I have some smoked salmon at home, so I used it instead of getting the traditional raw fish.  For a nice colour combination,  I added some strawberries, canned pineapple, canned peaches, Chinese parsley and pomelo.  My little girl loves the crackers in yu sheng, so I fried some shredded wonton skins for that crispy crackers.

Ingredients for seafood congee
(makes 3 big bowls of congee)

3/4 cup rice
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt

4 medium-sized dried scallop (washed and soaked in water)
2 slices ginger

1 salmon fillet (150g to 200g) - thinly sliced
3 to 4 large fresh scallops (each piece sliced horizontally into two)
1 tbsp oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Chopped spring onion
Fried wonton skin


1) Wash rice, drain water in sieve and leave it for half an hour till water is fully drained off.  Season the rice with oil and salt, leave it for about an hour.

2) Bring a pot of water to boil (about 2000ml, including the liquid used to soak the dried scallop).  Add (B) and rice.  Simmer over low heat for about 2 hours.  Taste the congee and add a little salt, if necessary.

3) Briefly marinate the sliced salmon and scallop with oil, salt and pepper (about 15 minutes before adding to the congee).  

4) Bring the congee to boil on high heat, add sliced salmon, scallops and cook for about 30 to 45 seconds.

5) Garnish with chopped spring onion, fried wonton skin, a dash of pepper and serve immediately.

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