Dried Shiitake Congee with Blistered Tomato Oil

Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil The summer passed incredibly quickly, and somehow it’s fall!! I walk to the market and I see pumpkins and squash popping up, cheerfully pushing aside all the corn and tomatoes, all the products of summer I feel like I didn’t even get a chance to embrace, and I feel like scooting them off the table, to wait, until I’m ready. But of course, that’s not how it works.

 Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil
 Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil

This recipe celebrates the transition of seasons, a mix of comfort and vibrancy. CA Olive Ranch challenged me to create something using kitchen staples, as olive oil for sure is a staple in my kitchen, and I immediately asked myself, “what dishes do I make without a recipe?”. It feels odd to write down a recipe for this non-recipe-esque dish, but it did help to quantify and ask myself what proportions I use. I remember when I first started the blog and really wasn’t familiar in the kitchen, I definitely needed the quantities and step by step. I like to think that I grew my skills in the kitchen partly due to this blog, as this blog challenged me to experiment, to cook a LOT (recipe testing is no joke), and now I almost never use recipes in the kitchen!!!!! Unless I’m cooking from a cookbook :), or baking.

dried-shiitake-mushroom-congee | bettysliu-14Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil

Kitchen staples for me include olive oil (duh), sesame oil, aromatic dry spices/herbs, grains, sauces (like soy sauce, black vinegar), sugar/salt/pepper etc, and some seasonal produce! The pantry items are consistently restocked, and the produce changes as I go to the market. I decided to whip up a dish that is, for me, the epitome of comfort. When I’m not craving pie or dessert-type comfort food, I want a bowl of hearty congee. The beauty of congee (or what we call just “Zhou” 粥) is that you don’t need a recipe, you can do whatever you want to it, and it’s filling. (in fact, check out this super autumnal honeynut squash congee from last fall)

For this, I spiced it up with a charred tomato oil (that you can jar and use in other dishes, you’re welcome), and my “secret ingredient” to this congee is using dried shiitake, for both stock and topping.

Let’s hold on to the last remnants of summer – I’m eating those beautiful ripe tomatoes almost every day, and those little cherry tomatoes make truly wonderful snacks. The oil is really easy to make – simply broil them until they’re blistered and charred, then mix with some roast garlic, a good quality olive oil like CA Olive Ranch, and blend. Strain. Drizzle over anything like you would olive oil.

 Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil
 Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil

Now let’s talk about the dried mushrooms. I keep a jar of good dried shiitakes in a jar in my kitchen at all times. It’s one of those ingredients that can be used in so many dishes that it’s constantly being restocked. Let me list a few: ramen. soup. congee. sticky rice. risotto. The reason I use dried mushrooms is that you can easily get a mushroom stock, packed with umami, just from prepping the mushrooms. Rinse dried mushrooms thoroughly, then pour hot water over them, in a bowl. Let sit for 20-30 minutes, and then when they’re soft enough to cut through (but not like mush), the mushrooms are ready to use, and save that stock. I love when you get a byproduct of flavorful stock just by prepping – bean stock actually comes to mind (who else saves bean stock?!). The stock is used to cook the rice, and the mushroom flavor truly permits throughout the dish, so that every bite – even the bites without ANY topping – is cozy and mushroom-y. For those who do not like mushrooms, this is probably not your dish!

Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil

dried-shiitake-mushroom-congee | bettysliu-9

 dried-shiitake-mushroom-congee | bettysliu-10
 dried-shiitake-mushroom-congee | bettysliu-12

Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil


This post is sponsored by california olive ranch. All opinions expressed are purely my own, as always. Thank you so much for supporting the companies that support this blog. 

RECIPE: Shiitake Mushroom Congee with Blistered Tomato Oil 

Note: the congee is a very forgiving recipe. If you want a thicker congee, add less water. If you want a thinner one, add more water. If you want chewier rice, then cook for less time. If you want a mushier rice, then cook for more. Simple :). Just be sure to stir every once in a while to prevent sticking to the pan.

1 cups ripe cherry tomatos
3 garlic cloves
2 cups olive oil
pinch crushed red pepper flakes

In a broiler set to high on the highest rack in the oven, roast until tomato skins are charred and blistered, around 6-7 minutes. Rotate 2-3 times during the process.

Process oil, cloves, red pepper flakes, tomatoes in a blender until chunky puree forms. Let sit 1 hour.

Strain and transfer to an airtight container.

mushroom congee
~ 7 cups water/mushroom stock
1.5 cups dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30-35 minutes.
1 cup jasmine rice, soaked for 30 minutes
fresh scallion, chopped
1 tsp sliced ginger

Bring mushroom stock + water, rice, salt, ginger to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.

Simmer for 1 hour until your desired consistency. Stir once in awhile to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile heat up oil and cook mushrooms to your preference – I like a quick sautéed with scallions, salt, pepper, and a splash of soy sauce.  Remove from heat. Add to a bowl of congee and top with fresh scallions and a healthy drizzle of blistered tomato oil.

Shiitake Mushroom Congee Tomato Oil



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  • Yes to non-recipes! I love this Betty. The colors have me so ready for fall and HELLO Staub pots for all the cozy meals ;). xoReplyCancel

  • Ooh well even if you never use a recipe for congee, I’ve never made it before so this is such a perfect place to start! Looks SO cozy. we are in that cross-over time at the moment where it is still cold enough here to enjoy all the autumn recipes coming over from you guys in the Northern hemisphere so this is ideal. Hope you are well! xxReplyCancel

  • Your recipes are the always the most creative ones Betty. Love all the end of summer tomatoes and mushroom flavors in this congee.
    And your photos… always stunning.ReplyCancel

  • Girl, I feel you. I’m so not ready for summer produce to be pushed aside. I love that you’re celebrating the transition of seasons here – I too have been snacking on late summer cherry tomatoes and I cannot wait to try this recipe. You know how I feel about congee – I will bookmark this for the next time you visit and then I’ll wake up early enough to get a scoop before it disappears;)ReplyCancel

  • It’s always so amazing to see how you make a plain congee looks so beautiful on the photos! I truly love that tomato oil. Can’t wait to make some today and use it on my roasted veggies :)ReplyCancel

  • Oooh this. It looks absolutely amazing! So comforting with all of the best umami flavors. That blistered tomato oil sounds delicious. Very excited to try! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Wow Betty what a beautiful dish!! This looks totally incredible! -CKReplyCancel

  • so beautiful, Betty. love love love the photos and the vibrancy of flavour and colour. XxReplyCancel

  • This looks so deliciously comforting and totally loving the tomato oil!ReplyCancel

  • That looks like the perfect dish for when the weather starts to break, but you still have a bunch of cherry tomatoes. I’ve never had congee, but I think I need to give this recipe a try.ReplyCancel

  • Using mushroom stock is revelatory. I’m really excited to try that tomato oil too. Fall’s really the best season. Lovely, lovely photography!ReplyCancel

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