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My Chinese food revelations

  • p

Went to New Green Bo last night in the company of new and old friends. Amazing, amazing meal. BUT two things I'd never had (or seen) before was the jelly fish and the crispy fried eel. I ate as much of the jelly fish as was seemly, but when a few strands seemed to languish on the plate, I snapped up what was left. I've been thinking about the eel a lot! It was sweet, very crisp, and I wish I had some more.

The other revelation (which I'll slip in here though I had it at Sweet 'n Tart in Flushing) was congee. So delicate and comforting that I remarked it seemed like exotic food for an invalid!

I'll be going back to Maine soon (to return when grandchild is born) but I have memories to last a lifetime from this trip; some are wonderful, others, sad and disturbing, but all are significant. pat

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  1. About congee, I've often eaten it at the unfortunately named Big Wong, over on Mott Street (around the corner from the equally humorously named Mei Dick barber shop). It certainly could be described as "comfort food," but, on the down side, like many such foods, it is so subtle as to border on the non-existent. Think of it as Cream of Wheat for the Asian set.

    9 Replies
    1. re: deejaynyc

      Nonsense. Good congee should not be likened to cream of wheat (unless you're talking about plain unsalted congee). The last time I looked pork, duck, bamboo piths, crab meat, pig's blood, ginger, salted fish, etc. were not bland nor were they typical accouterments to cream of wheat.

      1. re: Porthos

        Hey, don't forget the Preserved Egg! None so black! I love congee and though it might seem obvious, Congee Village (east side of Allen just below Delancey)is still the tops. I dig the crust! They have great steamed and/or fried bread too. Anyway, don't let them see you put chili paste in there (salt and pepper only, please!).

        BTW I actually grok the connection to hot breakfast cereal. I've always loved congee and Wheatena, Farina, grits, oatmeal, Cream of Wheat and ahem Cream of Rice. All are comfort foods that I've never outgrown. Hmm, you think that's why I never outgrew my "baby belly"? (My grandmother doctored the Wheatena with sweetened condensed milk and I can still see the Atlantic from her Brighton Beach apartment kitchen in the Coney Island mornings of my mind).

        1. re: Dave Rick

          Coney island of your mind, eh? Lawrence Felinghetti meets congee... an interesting combination. And of course anything can be made interesting by what's put on top of it. It's just the underlying stuff that's bland.

          1. re: deejaynyc

            If you don't use good quality rice and good quality stock, you'll get bland. The flavor of congee should be subtlely complex, some people can taste it, and some can't.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I've noticed even Wo Hop putting ginger and lettuce in theirs perhaps in recognition of the much more recent entrants.

              1. re: Dave Rick

                The tender shreds of young ginger are a must with seafood congees.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Michelle

                  Yeah, my default congee is usually sliced fish, fish maw or squid - late nights at Wo Hop, Noodletown or places east of those (one under the M. bridge comes to mind) - and they all do the ginger. But, again as a fan with not that much experience (I have a feeling I need to follow you around), Congee Village does indeed accomplish a subtle silky congee that stands on it's own. Keep displaying your expertise, PLEASE.

          2. re: Dave Rick

            The reason they recoil when you put chili in your congee is not purely for culinary reasons. The Chinese consider it very bad for your health to have spicy hot food for breakfast.

            That's never stopped me from chowing on huevos rancheros in New Mexico...

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Sounds reasonable, I guess. I have no reason to disagree and not abide the custom, and I've really enjoyed loading up the black pepper. However, I'm usually eating congee between 5pm and 4am.

      2. Pat,

        Congrats on your impending grandchild! Perhaps this calls for a "Welcome back, Pat!" first-ever Maine chowhound event... but we'll save that for the NE board.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MU

          Thanks, MU. Meet me on the New England board. pat