Whole Grain Congee with Crisp Panko Chicken

banner

Use a good homemade stock here, if possible, because its flavor will be the basis of this simple porridge. I like the nutty, textured quality of whole grains in this dish, but feel free to use white rice or a combination of white and brown rice. And if frying chicken at the last minute is not something you want to tackle on an evening, a handful of just about any leftover meat pulled from the bone, or from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, is a perfectly acceptable substitute.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (about 190 g) whole grains: farro, pearled or pot barley, brown jasmine rice, or a ombination
  • 2 quarts (2 L) good-quality stock, such as beef stock or chicken or turkey stock, or a combination
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 well-trimmed skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (80 g) panko bread crumbs, or more, if needed
  • 1 large egg
  • About 6 tablespoons (90 ml) vegetable oil
  • Chinese light soy sauce
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup (10 g) chopped fresh cilantro
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Method

Morning

Rinse the grains in a sieve under running water, then dump them into the slow cooker. Add the stock, wine, and ginger. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Morning or Evening

Cut the chicken into strips ½ inch (12 mm) thick. If doing this in the morning, put in a covered container and refrigerate. Put the flour in a medium bowl or on a plate and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper. Put the panko in a second bowl or plate. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.

Evening

In a small bowl, whisk the egg together with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt; set it near the flour and panko. In batches, toss the chicken strips in the flour to coat, then in the egg, then in the panko. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add half of the chicken strips. Cook, turning with tongs, until browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes total; transfer to the paper towels to drain. Grab a paper towel with the tongs and wipe out the pan to remove any blackened bits. Cook the remaining chicken. If you’d like, coarsely chop the chicken strips on a board (it makes for easier eating, if a less attractive bowl).

Whisk the rice mixture in the cooker and season with soy sauce to taste. Serve in bowls, topped with the fried chicken, scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds.