It’s just a wonderful time of year! School is off and running, and dare I say, “in a routine.” The weather has been spectacular, harvest season is upon us, and our favorite student-led café is once again up and going for the fall semester.
Bistro Verde, on the campus of Lincoln Land Community College, opened on Sept. 7 as Bistro-to-Go, a quick service concept serving soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. Bistro-to-Go will continue with regular business hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through Oct. 6, before it changes concept to our full service Bistro Verde on Oct. 25. What’s fun about our student-run cafe is that, under the direction of Chef Joshua Dineen along with Sous Chef Lakesha Jackson, we get to experience a wide variety of dishes oftentimes with global inspiration.
When Chef Josh proposed putting a soup on the menu called congee, I, like many of us when approached with something a bit unfamiliar, had an immediate reaction, “Ehhhhh. Are we sure we want to put that on the menu?” It’s a simple soup that I only knew vaguely about. Chef Josh was kind enough to remind me that the soup itself is comfort food in another culture, and that it is our job to bring those dishes to light for students and the public in general. I started doing a bit more research.
Congee is an historically significant soup in the Asian culture with specific roots that go way back in Chinese culture. According to Tobie Meyer-Fong, largely considered the expert on cultural Chinese history, the earliest reference to congee dates back to the Han dynasty, circa 206 B.C. to A.D. 220. That is a soup that has truly been around forever and represents the kind of cuisine in the Asian culture that is enjoyed in as many ways as there are families and traditions passed down to enjoy it. From babies’ first bites and with combinations of condiments with everything from savory to sweet, the ways in which this soup can be enjoyed are endless.
Chef Josh and culinary students are featuring this soup in its classic form – rich, creamy, with chunks of chicken and full of fresh ginger served with a little drizzle of chili oil. If I haven’t convinced you yet to come try a whole bowl, enjoy a cup with a half of the Taste of Thai salad, and you will not regret it.
- 4 cup jasmine rice
- Hainanese chicken stock
- 14 wt. oz ginger
- 5 wt. oz scallion
- ¼ cup MSG
- ¼ cup sea salt
- ½ cup garlic minced
- ½ cup schmaltz
- 8 cups high quality chicken stock
Combine rice and stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook rice until rice is very soft. Blend rice to coarsely smooth. Add more stock if needed and serve with poached chicken, ginger and scallions and drizzle with chili oil.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management and Baking/Pastry, and non-credit cooking and food classes through LLCC Community Education.
Cooking or food questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.