Congee with Bouncy Pork Meatballs

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 8 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into three 3-inch pieces and crushed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup fried garlic slices
  • 1/4 cup fried onions
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced celery 
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Lime wedges, sliced scallions and chopped cilantro, for serving

1.  In a bowl, combine the pork with the 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, soy sauce and a pinch of white pepper.  Set aside.   

2.  In a heavy bottom large sauce or small stock pot, combine the chicken stock, rice and lemongrass and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until the rice is soft, about an hour topping with water as needed.  Discard the lemongrass. 

3.  Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the dried chiles over moderate heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder; some seeds will remain. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

4.  Heat the oil in the skillet. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Scrape the garlic oil into a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the serrano, vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

5.  Using two spoons, make generous 1-inch meatballs with the ground pork. Drop into the rice and broth in the casserole. Cover and simmer over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes. 

6.  Ladle the congee into bowls. Serve with little bowls of the sliced celery, fried onions, fried garlic, chile vinegar, lime wedges, scallions, cilantro, white pepper and fish sauce.

sarah adams