Minced beef congee at Coluck — mother in a bowl
Also known as jook, the soothing rice porridge called congee is South China’s favorite breakfast. The rice has been cooked into oblivion in some kind of broth till rice and liquid merge almost completely. Flavorings often include shredded ginger, and occasionally sherry, and chopped green onions grace the top.
The recipe is entirely elastic, and extra nourishment is often thrown in: pork tidbits, pickled veggies, pig stomach, preserved egg, and sliced chicken. Doctor it with soy, hot chili oil, and fish sauce at your own discretion. The thick soup is usually eaten with a cruller — a wheat-based, baseball-bat-size linear donut that has caused many to ask, “Where the hell did that come from?” (France?)
Though many Cantonese places (Congee Village, for one) offer a bewildering number of jook choices, and even a communal option that allows many to feast on a gigantic tureen, one of your best bets for eating it is in one of the small and colorful Hong Kong cafés currently dotting Chinatown, of which Coluck is one. There are only a half-dozen congees on its menu, but one is sure to please you.
And, in addition, you can have your cruller stuffed, which is something I’d never seen before. The thing is cut into quarters, and filled with scallions and shredded preserved fish. Go ahead, dip it in the soup.
Coluck’s stuffed cruller
16 Elizabeth Street