If you can top rice with almost anything to create an Asian-style one bowl meal, you can do the same with congee. And while egg and boiled chicken or meat are the most popular congee toppings, I have discovered that crispy toppings make congee even more exciting.
Of course, the idea of using crispy toppings for congee is not new. In Chinese cooking, it’s not unusual to find fried wonton skins or tofu, or both, in a bowl of congee. Delicious, really. The interplay of textures with every spoonful makes a delightful mouth feel.
But wonton skins and tofu are both bland. What if the crispy element in my congee were more flavorful? And what if there was something else beyond the crispiness? Deep fried battered oyster mushrooms are lightly crisp on the surface but subtly chewy inside. Wouldn’t that make a better topping for congee?
If you intend to serve this for breakfast, the best way to cook the congee is in the slow cooker, overnight, using the lowest setting. For more about cooking congee, see the linked post below.
In theory, just about any mushroom can be battered and fried, and used as topping for congee. But oyster mushrooms, the variety used here, are unique because they have plenty of crevices to catch the batter and make it stick better. For two standalone recipes for cooking crispy mushrooms, see below.
Complete the dish
- 8 cups cooked congee (the link goes to full instructions)
- finely sliced scallions
- spicy furikake
Fry the mushrooms
- Tear large mushrooms vertically into two to three portions.
- Place all the mushrooms in a large mixing bowl and toss with the salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg then pour into the bowl with the mushrooms. Mix well to coat each piece of mushroom with egg.
- Whisk together half of the starch with the baking powder and dump into the bowl with the egg-coated mushrooms.
- Mix to distribute evenly. The mixture should be a bit wet. If too wet (that can happen if the egg is quite large), you may add more starch, a tablespoon at a time.
- Heat the wok. Pour in enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches at the center.
- When the oil reaches 350F, fry the oyster mushrooms in batches until golden and crisp.
- Drain the cooked mushrooms on a rack or shallow strainer, cook the next batch, and so on, until all the mushrooms have been fried.
Assemble the congee
- Ladle hot congee into four bowls.
- Drop pieces of fried mushrooms on top.
- Sprinkle in the scallions, aonori and spicy furikake.