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The comfort of congee

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Although the cuisines vary from country to country and even within regions, the one dish Asians have in common is a comforting bowl of rice porridge. In China, this is known as congee, or jook, which has many flavor profiles and is served with a host of condiments and toppings. Sometimes the rice is boiled with water; better congee is boiled in chicken stock and has the consistency of cream of rice or oats. The residents of Shanghai prefer a savory version. Sichuan cooks use chopped preserved vegetables as a topping. Some congee is made with egg, some with chicken. Others are sweetened with sugar or made with fermented red rice. Congee is often the first solid food a baby eats and thus has all the appeal of a comfort food. Plus, congee is renowned for its restorative properties. Although it's typically eaten for breakfast, lunch or as a late-night snack, in Charlotte you can find it at lunchtime.

Where to find it: Congee is offered as a Wednesday special at Tin Tin Box & Noodle, 101 N. Tryon St. (in the Independence Building). A small bowl is $2.75; large is $5.

Congee can also be found with other dim sum on Saturdays and Sundays at the Dragon Court, 4520 N. Tryon St.

Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the QC? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: tricia.childress@creativeloafing.com or 704-522-8334, ext 136.

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