Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Truffle Congee with Dried Scallops

A popular way of using truffle is to make a risotto. It's even better if the truffle has been stored in the risotto rice, so that the rice is infused with the aroma of the truffles. Instead of using risotto rice to store my fresh truffle, I used jasmine rice. One of the dishes that I wanted to cook with truffle was rice congee. Truffles contain umami and I usually make my rice congee with dried scallops which is also rich in umami, I thought that these two elements would work well together. Similar to truffles, dried scallops are considered a delicacy and are expensive to buy, and you only need to use a little for cooking because it has a very strong and complex flavour which enhances many dishes.

 (dried scallops which have been soaked overnight)

I stored some fresh truffle with some jasmine rice for for a few days so the rice was permeated with the lovely aroma of truffles. 

To make rice congee, you basically boil rice in a lot of water for a long time until the rice breaks down into a creamy consistency like a thick soup.

I decided to make the truffle rice congee using a clay pot. This was the first time that I had used a clay pot to make congee. I thought that it would be good to use a clay pot  as it keeps foods cooking at a low simmer and retains moisture, so it's seems like a perfect cooking vessel for making congee. I washed and rinsed the rice that I had been infusing with truffle three times and then put it in a clay pot along with some dried scallops which I had soaked overnight. As I washed the rice I could smell the truffle aroma in the water. 

Rice congee is generally cooked with hot water and flavoured with meat or bones. For my truffle congee I used some chicken stock to provide flavour. I put the clay pot on the stove, turned the heat onto low-medium and added in the water the dried scallops had been soaking in and a few ladles of chicken stock until halfway up the side of the pot, and let it slowly simmer, half covered, checking now and then, and stirring occasionally so that the rice grains do not stick to the bottom of the pot. As I stirred, the dried scallops would break up into pieces. When I saw that the stock had dried up, I checked the consistency of the rice and added in more stock, and continued simmering and adding in more stock until I got the desired consistency. 

I seasoned the congee with some salt and fish sauce at the end. Altogether I used 1 cup of rice and about 1.5 litres of chicken stock, and the cooking time was around 50 minutes. Cooking the rice congee in this way is similar to cooking a risotto as I ladle in the stock as I go. You can also add in all the stock at the beginning with the rice and then just let it simmer. There are no hard and fast rules for the ratio of rice to water in making congee, different recipes will give you different amounts and it also depends on the cooking vessel (slow cooker, rice cooker, saucepan, pressure cooked) you are using and the consistency you desire. Some like a more watery and soupy congee (thus, more water/sock needs to be added), while others like a thicker texture. Adding in the stock overtime allowed me to monitor the cooking process and add in as much stock as I felt was needed. 

 This is the consistency to aim for.

After I achieved my desired consistency. I ladled the congee into a bowl, grated some fresh truffle over the top and garnished with coriander. 

Rice congee with dried scallops + fresh truffles = Comfort food that has become the ultimate food!

I’ve read that the release of truffle essences and flavours start at 27C, and the best release of exposed truffle is between 60C-80C. When you add some truffle on top of hot meals, the heat helps to release the flavour of the truffle into the food. 

It’s amazing how just a little scatter of truffles can transform and enhance the flavour of a simple dish.

I was really happy with how the truffles tasted in the rice congee. Season with a little salt and pepper, stir and all the flavours are amplified. 

Stirring in the truffle.


  1. Who would have thought truffle congee?

    Here I was thinking that duck egg congee from some late night Chinese restaurant was the way to go.

  2. Hi Adrian

    I also like to add century duck egg to congee but I guess when cooking with truffles you want to keep it simple and let the truffles shine.