Congee & Caramelized Pork with Crispy Shallots and Black Garlic
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Congee & Caramelized Pork with Crispy Shallots and Black Garlic

This was my first time making congee at home, and it was a huge success! A big bowl of creamy Chinese porridge is topped with sweet, tangy pork, crispy shallots and fresh herbs.

The balance of sweet, salty and tangy is really nice in this dish. The textural contrast is great, too – creamy porridge, tender pork and crispy shallots. The fresh cilantro and green onions on top bring it all together.

Congee & Caramelized Pork with Crispy Shallots and Black Garlic

It’s no wonder this dish won over the judges on Top Chef. It was a big hit at my house! It took a lot of work but it was well worth it.

Just a note – the recipes from Blue Apron call for “1 bunch” of herbs, and that correlates to the size of the “bunch” they send if you’re using their service (which I’m absolutely in love with!). I’d say their bunches are about 1-2 tablespoons.

Congee & Caramelized Pork with Crispy Shallots and Black Garlic
Blue Apron – Top Chef’s Mei Lin

Makes: 2 Servings
Calories: About 700 Per Serving

10 Ounces Ground Pork
1/2 Cup Sushi Rice
2 Scallions
1 Bunch Cilantro
2 Cloves Black Garlic
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Teaspoons Chinese Black Vinegar
2 Teaspoon Congee Spice Blend (Ground Galangal, Garlic Powder, Ground Ginger, Ground Lemongrass, Cayenne Pepper)
1 Shallot
1/4 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour

1. Prepare the ingredients:
Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel the black garlic cloves. In a small bowl, using a fork, mash the black garlic cloves into a paste; add 1 tablespoon of water and stir to combine. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice the scallions, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Pick the cilantro off the stems; discard the stems. Peel and thinly slice the shallot into rings; separate the rings and place in a bowl of cold water.

2. Make the congee:
In a large pot, heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium-high until hot. Add half the white parts of the scallions and half the spice blend. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the rice; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the rice is toasted and starts to crackle. Add 6 cups of water; cook, stirring occasionally, 23 to 26 minutes, or until the rice is tender and creamy. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Start the pork:
After the rice has cooked for about 5 minutes, in a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ground pork and cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 1 to 3 minutes, or until browned. Add half the soy sauce and the remaining white parts of the scallions and the remaining spice blend. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the pan.

4. Make the caramel & finish the pork:
Place the coconut palm sugar in the same pan used to cook the pork. Heat on medium-high, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes, or until melted and dark amber in color. Turn off the heat and add the black vinegar, mashed black garlic mixture and remaining soy sauce. Stir until well combined. Add the cooked pork (along with any juices on the plate) and ¼ cup of water. Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined and heated through. Remove from heat.

5. Cook the shallots:
Drain the shallot rings. Place the flour in a small bowl. Add the drained shallot rings to the bowl of flour and toss to thoroughly coat. In a small pan, heat a thin layer of oil on medium until hot. Tap any excess flour off the shallots. Add them to the pan in a single layer. (If necessary, work in batches to avoid overcrowding.) Cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt.

6. Plate your dish:
Divide the congee and caramelized pork between 2 dishes. Top with the crispy shallots and green parts of the scallions. Garnish with the cilantro. Enjoy!

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.

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