What Is Congee In Chinese And How To Cook It?

Asian cuisine is known for being incredibly good. There are loads of spices, all sorts of ingredients, and the incredible umami flavor. As detailed and complex as most dishes are, there are several foods that are considered simple and universal, largely because they can be taken with anything.

As with many other communities across the globe, the Chinese have their own version of porridge or gruel. Unlike many other places, however, the Chinese version, known as Congee, is a savory treat as opposed to a sweet one. So, what is it made of, what are some of its most common versions, and how do you cook it?

What is Congee Food?

As mentioned above, Congee is a type of Asian porridge or gruel that is most commonly made by the Chinese. It is made from rice grains, but the cooking method is slightly different as the idea is to end up with a viscous paste. Congee has a high quantity of water, and it takes longer to cook than normal rice does.

One of the main reasons why it is very popular is that it goes with just about anything. You can have it served with fish, chicken, and other meats, as well as vegetables, flavorings, and seasonings. However, because it is made as a savory meal, it can be had on its own with no need for an accompaniment.

How to Make Congee

Congee, made from water and rice and water only, tastes bland. Below are two congee recipes that you can use depending on what you are going for.

Basic Chinese Congee Recipe

This recipe makes the simplest form of congee.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 7 cups of water
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1-inch knob of ginger (sliced)
  • Green onion (sliced)
  • Soy sauce or sesame seed oil (optional)

Method

Step 1: Rinse the rice

Place the rice in a colander with small enough holes to keep the rice from going through. Run water through the rice to get rid of any dirt and excess starch.

Step 2: Prep the congee

Grab a large crock pot and add the rice, water, salt, sesame seed oil, and ginger. Bring it all to a boil on high heat. When the mixture has boiled, bring the heat down to low and allow the congee to simmer for one hour. When it is nicely thick and creamy, it is ready to serve.

At this point, you can check the salt level and add a little if it is not enough.

Step 3: Serve

Serve the congee hot in a bowl. Garnish with sliced green onions and enjoy.

Chicken congee

This recipe makes a more flavorful congee dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 7 cups of chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Minced garlic
  • Minced ginger
  • Gingko nuts
  • Shredded chicken
  • Shredded bok choy

Method

Step 1: Prepare the rice

Rinse your rice under running water. Add some water to a bowl and proceed to soak your rice for half an hour. Drain the water before cooking the rice.

Step 2: Boil the rice

Place the rice, chicken stock, salt, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce in a large crock pot and place it over high heat. When the rice comes to a steady boil, go on and reduce the heat to medium. Allow the congee to cook for an hour.

Step 3: Serve the congee

When the congee is ready, add it to a bowl. You can add some salt if it is not as you like it. When served, add the shredded chicken, gingko nuts, shredded scallions, and shredded bok choy to your dish and enjoy.

Types of Chinese Congee

  • Seafood Congee

To give it a nice seafood flavor, this dish is made using shrimp stock instead of water. It can be served with crab, calamari, shrimp, scallops, or prawns. To give it a little more depth, many people add white rice wine to their seafood congee.

  • Fish Porridge

This type of congee can be made using fish stock. For best results, use fish that is white and flaky, and that has little oil. The flounder is one of the best fish to use for fish porridge. When making it, many people use such ingredients as rice wine, white pepper, and oyster sauce to add flavor.

  • Pork and Century Egg Congee

This congee type is not exactly the most popular; it is something of an acquired taste. The shredded pork is great, but many people are not accustomed to the century egg. It, however, is a delectable combination, especially when combined with the right spices.

  • Pumpkin Congee

Pumpkin congee is excellent for breakfast, and it is one of the easiest congee dishes to make. It has a characteristic sweetness and earthiness from the pumpkin, and this blends quite well with the creamy rice. To add a little texture, you can include sweet corn in the dish. Even though it is largely plant-based, this dish also packs a commendable level of umami, especially if you combine the right spices.

  • Sweet Potato Porridge

This version of congee is pretty laid back as it dials back on the spices and other inclusions. It tastes great, but it does not pack as big an umami flavor as you would find in seafood congee. There are many types of sweet potatoes that you can use, but red garnet sweet potatoes go really well with rice congee.

  • Vegetable porridge

If you are looking for a vegetarian or vegan option, you can try making rice congee and have it with veggies. Bok choy makes a great choice, and shiitake mushrooms also elevate the dish.

  • Millet Congee

Millet makes a great addition to your congee if you want to make it a little more protein-heavy without resorting to animal products. When making millet congee, add washed millet to the crock pot when the rice comes to a boil.

What is the difference between congee and porridge?

Congee is made entirely from rice, but porridge can be made from all sorts of other grains. Congee is a type of porridge, but not all porridge is congee.

Conclusion

Congee is an easy-to-make Chinese dish that you can have at any time of day, and the best thing about it is that you can combine it with just about anything. It does not require hard-to-find ingredients, so you can make any variation of it you like and enjoy it on a cold rainy day.

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