Rainy weather and comfort food go together like butter and jam, making Seattle the perfect location for curling up with a warm bowl of congee. This delicious, rice-based Asian dish has been around for thousands of years but congee is making a popular comeback with the current trend of broth based soups and “put an egg on it” culture.
For those who’ve never tried this belly-warming bowl of goodness, Secret Congee is a congee specialist shop located in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, and recently opened its doors. They're offering the perfect take-out meals to go!
“Me and several of my colleagues were laid off from the restaurant industry due to the pandemic, so we decided to collaborate and open our own restaurant together,” said chef and founder JP Lertsirisin. “I happened to know a person who ran a commissary and juice bar in Wallingford where we could set up shop, so I thought it was a good opportunity to open Secret Congee. This has definitely been a team effort.”
The congee kiosk is tucked away behind a little juice bar, appropriately utilizing the name “Secret,” and began taking orders on October 21st. Well, we guess the secret is now out and this new trendy take-out has been gaining popularity by word of mouth ever since.
“My father is from China and my mother is from Thailand,” said Lertsirisin. “I believe every Asian family makes and consumes some type of congee. I eat it all the time, and use my mother's recipe, which I doctor up a bit.”
Rice is a staple of many Asian communities, and congee traditionally uses jasmine rice cooked in chicken bone broth as its base. Usually a savory dish, it’s often eaten for breakfast or late at night. However, in the United States, it’s becoming a popular lunchtime meal. Congee is a versatile base, as it provides a canvas for limitless ingredients.
From meat and fish, to vegetables, spices, condiments, and “an egg on top,” congee is a one-pot meal that is easily customized for every palette. While mom’s chicken soup may be comforting on a cold, dreary day, a bowl of congee may just be the delicious alternative the doctor ordered.
A couple of favorite dishes served at Secret Congee are the Tom Yum Shrimp Congee and the Garlic Blue Crab Congee. The Tom Yum is made with jumbo shrimp, fried garlic, lime leaves, ginger and scallion. The Garlic Blue Crab Congee has three ounces of blue crab lump meat, fried garlic, chopped ginger and scallion.
They are incredible, so I recommend taking a friend with you to share and give them both a try. It’s extra delicious with an egg on top and an order of Youtaiao crispy fried dough on the side.
“Life is an adventure,” said Lertsirisin. “If you are looking for something different from what you typically eat every day, give us a try. Congee will definitely give you a new flavor and dining experience. The overall sensation when you eat congee is totally different. Whether you have had congee somewhere else before, or you have never had congee, it will blow your mind.”
Secret Congee is open for take-out and is located at 4405 Wallingford Ave N in Seattle. You can also order online at secretcongee.com