Caramel berry blend

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This is a berry-sweetened porridge made from a coconut-based congee. Congee is the beef tea of the East, the porridge version of motherly love. For many in the East, this blended congee has been the stuff of rib-sticking recuperation. The berries are a bright, tart European twist. In China, I enjoyed this with jackfruit – a mango/toffee flavoured fruit with a pineapple consistency. I remember thinking that it stood sophisticatedly proud of the congee, pretending not to know the humble porridge around it.

Berries, I thought, bullied into the blend by a little blitzing, would be a much better match.

Prep: 15 minutes, plus soaking
Cook: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 150 g/ oz/heaped 1 cup raspberries, plus 6 whole raspberries, to garnish
  • 150 g/ oz/ cups strawberries, plus 3 halved strawberries, to garnish
  • tbsp demerara or muscovado/soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

The Congee

  • 90 g/ oz/½ cup Thai fragrant rice or short-grain rice soaked for 2–4 hours, rinsed and drained
  • 650 ml/22 fl oz/ cups coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp caster/granulated sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Method

Chop the raspberries and strawberries roughly into large chunks, reserving all the juices. Reserve a few pieces to decorate, then leave them all to one side.

For the congee, heat the rice, coconut milk, caster/granulated sugar and salt in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Once the rice begins to boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until you have a porridge consistency.

Meanwhile, put the raspberries, strawberries, dememera sugar and lemon juice in a shallow frying pan over a medium heat and stir for about 8 minutes until the fruit softens but still has some bite, and the juice thickens slightly. Don’t let it go to a toffee-like consistency.

Now you can either stir the berry mix into the congee until the red juices just bleed a little into the congee, or blend them together using a stick/immersion blender.

Serve warm or cold in bowls, decorated with the reserved fruit.