One-pot wonders

Get out the pressure cooker for this fish congee recipe.
Get out the pressure cooker for this fish congee recipe.

My first two years working in hospitality were spent as a dish pig. As a result, I hate washing dishes. It is back-breaking and unglamorous work. Nevertheless, it provides essential grounding for working in restaurants. MasterChef should introduce an immunity challenge called ''Bugger, the dishy hasn't shown up''. Each contestant would pull back a curtain to find a mountain of crusty, half-burnt pots, pans and plates precariously balanced in a sink, then race to wash them.

I have done my fair share of scrubbing pots at work, so when I'm at home, I love a one-pot dish. Maximum deliciousness with minimum cleaning up is always a winning formula.

I use a pressure-cooker to make this tasty fish congee, which takes about 20 minutes to cook (it can also be prepared on the stove but takes longer). Congee is one of those meals that always make me feel healthier and happier. Those bright Asian flavours enliven my senses. The Chinese believe congee is good for sick people and infants. Whatever its health benefits, I make this dish again and again.

Barcelona-born Frank Camorra is chef and co-owner of Melbourne's MoVida Bar de Tapas. MoVida Sydney will open next month.


To me, this dish is the essence of Spanish food. I love the honesty of using a single pot, and the way the chorizo is used almost like a bouquet garni.

800g brown lentils
3 x 150g chorizo, whole
500g Japanese pumpkin, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 brown onion, whole
1 head garlic, whole
6 tomatoes
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 red capsicum, sliced in half, seeds removed
1 green capsicum, sliced in half, seeds removed
Sea salt
Sherry vinegar

Remove any discoloured seeds or stones from lentils, then wash under cold running water. Place in a large pot and add 3.5 litres of tap water. Add all other ingredients, except salt and vinegar. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, skimming any impurities every 20 minutes. Remove tomatoes, onion and capsicums and place them in a bowl. Remove garlic head and squeeze out cloves over vegetables. Puree vegetables with a hand blender and add them to the soup. Simmer for another 5 minutes, adding salt to taste. To serve, remove sausages, then slice them into 1cm discs. Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with a few drops of sherry vinegar and arrange the sausages on top.

Serves 6

1.6 litres chicken stock
250g jasmine rice
2 tbsp ginger, grated
680g rockling fillet
1 large red chilli, thinly sliced
6 spring onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup fried shallots

Put stock, rice and ginger into a medium-size pressure-cooker, close tightly. Place on medium heat and bring cooker to high pressure. Reduce heat to low and cook under pressure for 13 minutes. Turn heat off, release pressure. Once it stops hissing, open lid and place on low heat. (If using the stove: increase stock to 2 litres, place same ingredients in a large pot and simmer on a low heat for 90 minutes, stir occasionally.) Add fish. Allow to poach gently in the rice for 5 minutes until cooked. Spoon two ladles of fish congee into six bowls. Sprinkle chilli and spring onions generously over each, and drizzle with soy, fish sauce and sesame oil. Finish with a generous amount of fried shallots.

Serves 6

This story One-pot wonders first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.