One of my favorite comfort foods is a thick and savory rice porridge. It’s often considered a breakfast item but can be eaten for any meal. It is often called congee or jook and comes in a variety of flavors ranging from plain to abalone and chicken. Joe always orders one that is a mixture of pork parts (tripe, kidney, etc.). Since I’m not a fan of internal organs, I usually opt for something terribly non-exotic like ‘chicken’ or ‘beef’. Regardless, I loved it so much that I started making it at home.
Generally, my congee is made using leftover cooked rice. It can be made from uncooked rice, but takes a bit longer. Last night I made plenty of rice so I could make congee this morning. However, I didn’t think it all the way through and realized this morning that I didn’t have any chicken broth on hand. No worries, congee is versatile and I made a more simple version.
Many of us have had rice in soup, but congee takes rice one step further. The rice cooks until it begins to break apart. The starch thickens the liquid and creates a creamy consistency. The bits of remaining rice are soft and extremely tender. Since it’s easily digestible, it’s often one of the first foods a child learns to eat. Many mothers make it to soothe their sick children when they are at home sick. It’s comforting and nourishing.
I made a plain version today, then dressed it up with a few toppings. I used a ratio of 1 part cooked rice to 2 parts liquid. In this case, I used water. As it cooks, you may need to add more water to reach the desired consistency. I also added 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons freshly minced ginger about mid-way through cooking. Using 5 cups cooked rice, it took about 30 minutes to reach a thick consistency. It’s important to lightly simmer and stir often. Once the rice seems softened, I run a whisk through the congee which quickly breaks up the rice.
Typically, I would use chicken broth which adds much more flavor. Here is the naked version before toppings are added:
I boiled a few eggs and sliced for the top. I also added some leftover roast pork from last night’s dinner. For a bit of veg, I blanched baby bok choy and drizzled with sesame oil. A bit of chili pepper gives it a nice splash of color and spice!
It made for a nice warm breakfast this morning. Unfortunately, we didn’t have my favorite accompaniment on hand. It’s a long fried salty donut called Yao Tiew — SteamyKitchen has a great pic of them. You slice it up and dip it into the congee — YUM!