Beef and Lettuce Congee

Thin slices of marinated beef, sliced scallions, and crisp romaine lettuce add flavor and texture to this simple rice soup. Serve it with a homemade chile paste.

4 to 6


Hot Chile Paste

  • 1 cup (1 ounce) loosely packed dried red chiles, rinsed

  • 3/4 cup boiling water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil

  • 1/4 cup minced shallots

  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar or rice vinegar

Beef and Lettuce Congee

  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine, dry white wine, or dry sherry

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 6 ounces beef round, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup medium-grain Chinese, Japanese, or Korean white rice

  • 8 cups cold water

  • 4 scallions, sliced 1/4-inch thick

  • 1/2 pound (6 cups) romaine lettuce leaves, cut crosswise into 1-inch ribbons

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


Make the chile paste

  1. In a heatproof bowl, cover the chiles with the boiling water. Place a small plate on the chiles to keep them submerged and soak until pliable, at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.

  2. Transfer the chiles and their soaking liquid to a blender and puree. Blend in the salt and sugar.

Make the congee

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the wine, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Add the beef and turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a large saucepan and wash again until the water runs clear; drain. Cover the rice with the 8 cups of cold water and bring to a vigorous boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the rice is very tender, about 20 minutes.

  3. About 5 minutes before serving, bring the congee to a vigorous boil. Stir in the meat and its marinade and the scallions and remove from the heat. Stir in the lettuce and salt. Serve immediately in large bowls, passing Hot Chile Paste and fresh pepper at the table so guests can season their congee as they wish.

Make Ahead

The chile paste can be refrigerated for up to 3 months.

The congee recipe can be prepared through Step 2 up to 2 hours ahead. The congee will thicken as it stands, so you may have to add up to 1 cup of water to ensure a soupy texture.

Suggested Pairing

One way to match the underlying heat of chile paste is to serve an equally assertive, spicy wine, such as a Zinfandel; alternatively, offer a cool, refreshing beer, such as Japan's Asahi.

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