Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mushroom Ginger Congee #OATrageousOatmeals

A wonderful twist on traditional congee made with oats, mushrooms, ginger and vegetable stock, and a dash of hot spice, this Mushroom Ginger Congee is a bowl of pure comfort when you are feeling down or unwell or cold or hungry. So pretty much any morning around nine or any evening around six o’clock for me. 

Choose wisely but take chances
As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve learned to say no to more things, for instance “volunteer” opportunities that will overextend me or make me feel resentful or used, even if they are for a very good cause. On the other hand, I try to say yes to more things that will push my level of comfort and make me try new experiences. This oatmeal cookbook is one of them.

When my friend Kathy first approached me about reviewing her new cookbook, OATrageous Oatmeals, I thought, “Oatmeal? A book full of oat recipes?” Yeah, I wasn’t sure about that. You see, I am not a breakfast person. By which I mean that I don’t believe in traditional American breakfast food. I’d rather have last night’s leftover lasagna than a piled plate of pancakes with syrup. And for me, oats are breakfast food, except when they are in our family’s favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Savory oatmeal. Who knew? 
But the book blurb promised so much more than breakfast or sweet uses of oatmeal. I was intrigued by the potential of “pepperoni” crumbles made with oats and spices to mimic the texture and flavors of chopped pepperoni and I imagined them sprinkled on a Caprese salad. But the one recipe I most wanted to make was, funnily enough, a breakfast one.

On my maiden voyage to Southeast Asia, when I met my first hotel breakfast buffet in Singapore - oh, they are tables of deliciousness - I fell in love with all the Asian breakfast options, including congee. There it is made with broken rice simmered in savory broth and garnished with soy sauce, chopped chili peppers and spring onions, often crispy fried shallots and occasionally, pork floss. If I could make congee that delicious with oats, it would be a game changer for me and how I usually think of oatmeal.

Kathy’s Mushroom Ginger Congee did not disappoint. Each spoonful was as much a delight to my nose as it was to my mouth. The heady rich vegetable broth, thickened with oats, sent steaming tendrils of ginger and spice through the air in the most warming and delectable of ways. I was so wishing that I had doubled the recipe and I think my husband agreed, as he went back to the pot and poured out the mere dribbles left at the bottom in the hope of just another mouthful or two.

So, I’m here to tell you what Kathy’s been trying to say for ages on her great vegan blog, Healthy Slow Cooking: Oats can be so much more than porridge with a spoon of jam! (Which is, by the way, my younger daughter’s favorite way to eat them. We went through a lot of oats and jam in her childhood!)

Kathy has simple instructions for making your own oat milk – so much better and cheaper than store-bought – along with desserts and smoothies and scones and myriad baked and breakfast ideas. But, for me, it’s the savory recipes that have won my heart. How about a cashew curry savory granola as a snack for your next cocktail party? Yes, please, and can you invite me? Her Indian-Spiced Tomato Soup will be next on our menu, if I don’t make the Chickpea Veggie Soup first. Before you know it, I'll be putting oatmeal in everything. And that's a good thing now!

Update: Made the Chickpea Veggie Soup with permission to share that recipe too. Check it out: So good!

Want your own copy of OATrageous Oatmeals? Follow that link to Amazon and buy one! 

Now on to the recipe
Kathy’s headnote says, “Served in a bowl, congee is a thick Asian comfort food that can soothe a sore throat or just make you feel better after a bad day. This recipe makes enough for two but feel free to double or triple if you’re feeding more or want to keep some in the fridge for the duration of your cold. The mushrooms and ginger are great for getting your immune system back on track.” I concur. Especially with the part about doubling or trebling the recipe.

My adaptations
The only change I made was to serve the soup with a garnish of spring onions and season with chopped red chilies soaked in soy sauce, instead of salt and the hot pepper flakes. Oh, and I used portabella mushrooms because I couldn’t find shiitakes.

Recipe © Kathy Hester from OATrageous Oatmeals - Delicious & Surprising Plant-Based Dishes From This Humble, Heart-Healthy Grain, printed here by permission from Page Street Publishing

(Per serving: Calories 140.4, protein 3.9 g, total fat 1.5 g, carbohydrates 29.0 g, sodium 1570 mg, fiber 2.5 g)

Ingredients for 2 servings
3 cups (710 ml) vegetable or vegan chick’n broth
1⁄2 cup (48g) rolled oats
1⁄2 cup (35 g) minced mushrooms (shiitakes are great)
1⁄4 cup (27 g) minced carrot or sweet potato
1 tablespoon (6 g) grated ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1⁄2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
salt, to taste
hot pepper flakes, to taste

Bring the broth, oats, mushrooms and minced carrot or sweet potato to a boil in a medium pot.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add in the ginger, soy sauce and vinegar.

I put all three together in a small bowl, measured and at the ready, while the congee was cooking.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the oats are cooked and the stew becomes thick.

Before serving, add salt to taste and spice with hot pepper flakes.

My concoction looked more like this.


Thick and savory and delicious!

Disclosure: I received one copy of OATrageous Oatmeals for review purposes. No other compensation was received. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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