Brown rice and shiitake congee with rayu
Prep Cook Serves 20 min 1 hr 4
80ml vegetable oil 8 spring onions, 6 finely chopped, 2 finely sliced, to serve 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
180g short-grain brown rice
50g dried shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped 150g rainbow radishes, cut into thin rounds
2 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
½ tsp caster sugar 50g crispy shallots, shop-bought or homemade
For the rayu
1 tsp aleppo chilli flakes (or ½ tsp if using a spicier chilli flake)
1½ tbsp sweet pepper flakes 1½ tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tbsp black sesame seeds, toasted
2½ tsp grated tangerine zest 2½ tbsp soy sauce
Rayu is a Japanese chilli oil often enjoyed with rice, ramen or gyoza. My take on it includes tangerine zest, which sweetens and enriches the oil. Make it even if you’re not doing the congee and keep it in the fridge for whenever you need a bit of extra spice on your food.
Put the oil, chopped onions, ginger, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt in a large, high-sided saute pan on a medium heat. Fry for 12 minutes, stirring often, until soft and very aromatic; turn down the heat if it begins to colour or sizzle too much. Strain through a sieve and reserve the oil. Return half the drained solids to the pan, and put the oil and the rest of the spring onion mixture in a small bowl.
In two batches, blitz the rice in a spice grinder or pulse in a food processor, until the grains are broken up. Add the shiitake in two to three batches, and pulse until chopped into roughly 1cm pieces. Tip the rice mix into the spring onion pan and put on a mediumhigh heat. Add a litre and a half of water, a teaspoon and a quarter of salt, bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and leave to cook for 30 minutes, stirring often, until it’s very well cooked and the consistency of wet porridge.
While the rice is cooking, put the radishes in a bowl with the vinegar, sugar and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and leave to pickle lightly.
Stir all the rayu ingredients into the bowl with the reserved spring onion and oil mixture.
Divide the cooked rice between four bowls and top each portion with rayu. Garnish with the pickled radishes, sliced spring onions and crispy shallots, and serve.