An easy and simple, creamy congee recipe that is comforting any time of the year as an everyday meal or when you're feeling under the weather.
What is Congee?
Congee is essentially an Asian porridge made with rice, I like to think of it as a thick rice soup. It's comforting, warm, and well known as Asian comfort food, which is why many of us turn to this wonderful dish whenever we are not feeling well. At its core, congee is just rice and water boiled down to a thick and creamy consistency and served with many different types of proteins and toppings.
One of the many reasons why Asians usually have this ultimate comfort food when they are sick is because it's simple (it doesn't have a lot of ingredients in it, easy to digest, has a lot of water in it (to hydrate the body), and has a bit of protein in it as well if it is being made with a bit of meat. It is especially good when you don't have the appetite or energy to eat a full meal or when you can't hold your foods down.
Although congee is something that is commonly eaten when people are sick, it is also eaten as a meal for breakfast or lunch as well which makes this a highly versatile dish! As a meal, it can be commonly cooked with any type of meats and seafood and it can be loaded with different kinds of flavorful toppings!
INGREDIENTS FOR CONGEE
TYPES OF RICE AND COOKING TIME
- Japanese medium grain rice (calrose) - Congee can be cooked with many different kinds of rice but my favorite way to make it is by using Japanese medium grain (Calrose) rice. I prefer this type of rice because I find it gives me a good balance of creamy mixed with a bit of heartiness - I also find it makes the thickest type of congee as well. Everyone will have a different preference, so experiment until you find your perfect blend. When you are using this type of rice to make congee, it will take less time to thicken and you will need to stir it constantly because of how thick it will be, so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
- Basmati Rice - Alternatively, you can also mix in a little Basmati rice if you want a less thick congee. Since basmati rice is less starchy rice and will take a bit longer to cook to break down the rice grains. Basmati rice creates a heartier and thick soupy consistency type congee because the starch grains don't break down as easily into a creamy and consistency as much as Japanese medium grain rice.
MARINATING MEAT FOR CONGEE
When it comes to congee, you can use any kind of meat or seafood as your protein. The easiest and most convenient type of meat to use is ground meat (ground chicken, beef or pork). Ground meat also tends to cook faster as well. Alternatively, you can also thinly slice any type of meats as well, but make sure you slice them very thinly so they can cook quickly in the hot congee.
Regardless of what meats you use, you will want to marinate them for additional flavor. I like to marinate my meats with soy sauce and a bit of water. The brine keeps the meat from drying out since the salt draws the water into the meat. I also like to add a bit of oil and corn starch to give the meat a silkier texture as well.
TYPES OF TOPPINGS YOU CAN ADD TO CONGEE
If you are having congee because you are sick, I would keep the toppings simple and not add too many toppings that may irritate your throat. If you are having congee as a craving or a meal, then I highly suggest you go crazy on the toppings and experiment with it until you find a combination you like! It's fun, tasty and it can give congee a bit more variety!
Here are a few ideas that I like to use to jazz up my congee!
1.) Raw Egg, 2.) Green Onions, 3.) Pork Floss, 4.) Chinese Chili Oil, 5.) Crispy Deep Fried Garlic, 6.) Store-bought Furikake or Homemade Furikake. I also like adding Crispy Fried Onions/Shallots, Cooked Salted Duck Egg as well, which are not shown in the photo.
TIPS AND FAQS TO MAKING CONGEE
- Can I refrigerate congee? Yup! If you are sick or you need to make a big batch so you don't need to keep cooking it, then you definitely can store this in the fridge but I find that once you reheat it the next day, the congee will not be as thick and creamy like it was when it was fresh. You may need to use a potato starch slurry (1 tablespoon of potato starch mixed with 1 tablespoon of cold water) while it is boiling to re-thicken it again.
- How do I make congee creamy? Once your congee is cooked and the rice is soft, I like to move the pot off the heat and put a lid on it for 20 minutes. The 20 minutes lets the rice steam in the residual heat so that it can soften further so that the rice can break apart more easily. After that 20 minute waiting period, I like to whisk or vigorously mix the congee for about 5 minutes - this helps breaks down the rice further into smaller pieces to make it even creamier and softer.
- Can I use broth instead of water to make congee? Yes, you definitely can. Using broth can give congee more flavor as well. I use water in this recipe to keep it simple, in case anyone is making this congee because they are not feeling well.
LOOKING FOR ASIAN COMFORT FOOD RECIPES? TRY THESE!
- Tomato and Egg Stir Fry (Chinese Style)
- Miso Corn Egg Drop Soup Recipe
- Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji)
- Chinese Hot Pot Recipe Guide
- Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)
- Spicy Kimchi Tofu Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)
DID YOU MAKE THIS CONGEE RECIPE?
If you made this congee recipe, I want to see! Follow Pups with Chopsticks on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag and hashtag it with @pupswithchopsticks and #pupswithchopsticks. I love to know what you are making!
- ½ cup Japanese medium grain rice (calrose) (or a 50/50 mix of calrose and basmati rice)
- 7 cups water (or chicken stock)
- 2 slices ginger (optional, but highly recommended)
- salt (to taste)
- Green Onions (Thinly sliced. Highly Recommended)
- Pork Floss (Highly recommended)
- Crispy Deep Fried Garlic or Fried Onions (Highly Recommended, You can make this at home as well.)
- Furikake ( or make a batch, Homemade Furikake)
- raw egg yolk
- Salted Duck Egg (Cooked)
- Toasted Sesame Seeds
- Chinese Chili Oil
- Sesame Oil
Marinading the Chicken
- Thinly slice the chicken so it cooks quickly (¼ inch or less) and place it in a bowl. If you are using ground chicken or pork then place that in a bowl.
- Add the rest of the ingredients under 'Chicken Marinade' together with the chicken and mix well.
- Keep in the fridge to marinade until the congee is done cooking.
Cooking the Congee
- Set the stove to high heat and add water and ginger slices to the pot and wait for it to boil.
- Once the water has started to boil, add in the rice and stir it for a few minutes. We don't want the rice to settle at the bottom and stick to the pot.
- Once the congee has boiled for about 5 minutes, turn down the heat to medium low heat and let it simmer with no lid on. Using a lid will cause the starchy congee to over flow out the pot.
- It will take about 40-45 minutes to cook. Stir it every 10-15 minutes so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
- If you used a basmati/Japanese rice mix, you will need to cook it for an additional 15 to 20 minutes - for a total of approximately 1 hour.
- Once the congee is done, turn off the heat and put a lid on it and let it 'steam' for 20 minutes. This will thicken the congee a bit more.
- After 20 minutes, whisk the congee with a whisk or chopsticks quickly to break up the rice grains so that the congee will be more creamy and fluffy. Adjust the congee to the texture you like. If you like it thinner, add water or chicken stock to it 2 tablespoons at a time until you get the right consistency. If you like it thick and creamy, leave it as is.
- Turn the heat back to mdium heat and keep stirring until the congee is hot and starts to bubble.
- Once the congee starts to bubble, add in the chicken slices or ground meat and stir well so that the hot congee fully covers the meat.
- Cook the meat for about 2-3 minutes or until you see no more pink
- Add salt or soy sauce until it is the right amount of saltiness for you
- Serve with plain (as-is) or with toppings! Enjoy!
- If you are using Japanese Calrose Rice for this recipe, the congee will turn out very creamy and thick. If you like your congee slightly runnier, add water or chicken stock 2 tablespoons at a time until it is the right consistency for you at the end before you cook the chicken.
- If you are making a big batch of congee, it may not be as thick and creamy the next day. If you'd like to thicken it, you can mix in a potato starch slurry (1 tablespoon of potato starch mixed with 1 tablespoon of cold water) while it is boiling to re-thicken it again.
- If you don't have the time to watch over the pot and boil it down to its creaminess, boil it until the rice is soft and mix in a potato starch slurry (1 tablespoon potato starch, 1 ½ tablespoon cold water) and stir it evenly into the congee while it is boiling. This will thicken it up into a creamy consistency. I highly suggest that you don't substitute the potato starch with corn starch since corn starch will not stay creamy when it is stirred a lot or refrigerated.
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