I typically buy whole chickens and break them down into pieces at home - it’s a lot more economical that way. I save the carcasses and throw them into the freezer for a rainy day. Today, I am getting over a cold and craved some chicken congee. I used the chicken carcasses to make a stock, and picked out any remaining meat from the bones. From two carcasses, I yielded a good cup and a half of meat. I had some leftover rice from a recent take-out, and made a congee.
Then I looked around the kitchen and realized my ginger is about to sprout. I blitzed up the ginger - skin and all. The ginger skin has twice the amount of nutrients as the flesh, so why throw it away? Just make sure you scrub it clean, and buy organic if possible. I added some white parts of a green onion which was leftover from using the green parts as garnish, salt, and oil to make a ginger-scallion sauce.
Digging around my veggie drawer further, I grabbed a bunch of cilantro which needed to be eaten pronto. It’s hard to go through a big bunch of herbs. I chopped it up, including the stalks which are fragrant, tender, and edible, and made a pesto with some garlic and olive oil. You can do this with any leafy herbs - parsley, sage, perilla, etc. Finally, I garnished the congee with these two sauces, some crispy shallot (I always have a jar of it sitting around), and lots of white pepper and a few drops of sesame oil. Such a healing bowl of congee.
- 2 chicken carcasses
- 3 qts water
- 1 cup cooked rice (or 1⁄3 cup uncooked)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper, ground
- 1⁄2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Simmer chicken bones in water until reduced by a third. Strain to make 2 qts. Save the bones.
- Pick through the bones to get the meat. Discard bones.
- To the stock, add cooked rice and simmer for another hour until the rice is broken to form a smooth congee.
- When congee is smooth, with little visible grains of rice, add in chicken meat.
- Season with salt, pepper and sesame oil.
- Garnish with ginger-scallion sauce, cilantro-garlic pesto and some crispy shallots.
- Finish with sesame oil and more white pepper.
Makes: 1 cup
- 1 hand ginger, unpeeled, sliced
- 2 stalks green onions, white parts only, finely minced
- 1/2 cup neutral oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
Mince ginger in a blender. Transfer to a small pot, mix in remaining ingredients.
Cilantro Garlic Pesto
Makes: 1 cup
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves, even roots
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
In a blender, place all ingredients together and process to a paste.
Makes: 1 cup
- 3 shallots, sliced finely lengthwise
- 1 cup neutral oil
- Slice shallots thinly and add to cold oil in a small pot.
- Heat the oil and shallots together and let it simmer, stirring occasionally to create even brownness.
- Cook shallots until light golden brown.
- When it starts to be golden, remove from heat as it turns black very quickly at this stage.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove crispy shallots onto paper towels-lined pan.
- Reserve the oil for other uses.
Linda Tay Esposito is a teaching chef whose food represents a tribute and a commitment to the authenticity of the cuisines of the Pacific Rim. For the last 18 years, Linda has shared her passion and knowledge of Southeast Asian cuisines by using approachable techniques that students can recreate at home. Linda teaches at 18 Reasons and Milk Street Kitchen. Previously, she taught at the San Francisco Cooking School, Cavallo Point, and several other cooking schools in the Bay Area.
Outside of teaching, Linda is a food business consultant with a focus on placemaking and building equitable food systems through the intersectional lens of food, sustainability and equity. She led the food program at the Presidio Tunnel Tops, and worked with IKEA on conceptualizing their plant-forward foodhall. She led the development of La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, an innovative model of conscious, community-led development, offering economic opportunity for low income, women entrepreneurs, while creating jobs and delicious, affordable food for the community. Her past experience includes growing Hodo Foods from an artisanal producer to nationwide distribution, as well as a long career in product development and marketing in consumer technology, banking and CPG.
Linda is a member of the Good Food Foundation Advisory Board, and sits on their equity task force. In her free time, she plants hard-to-find Asian herbs at the community garden at Fort Mason.
Follow Linda on Instagram @Flavor_Explosions and check out her blog and recipes: www.flavorexplosions.com
18 Reasons is a Chef Partner of the Stop Food Waste campaign. They are a nonprofit cooking school on a mission to empower our community with the confidence and creativity needed to buy, cook, and eat good food every day.