“ A steaming bowl of thick Chinese rice porridge, known as congee or jook, works magic to cure the sniffles or just fill a belly for a busy day. In our version, rice is cooked with broth, ginger, and mushrooms until thick then served with an assortment of traditional accompaniments. Kate, Recipe Hunter ”
Congee (also known as jook) is the ultimate Chinese comfort food, an everyday rice porridge often eating at breakfast but also served to people when they are ill. Warm, comforting, and filling, the core of congee comes from humble origins as it was intended to make a little bit go a long way. Just 1 cup of rice cooked down could serve up to 8-10 people and was accompanied by little bits of meat, fish, or anything leftover from the night before. It’s like the never-ending pot of chili that can serve many a hungry mouth no matter who shows up. Traditionally, congee on it’s own is rather plain – just rice cooked with water or perhaps chicken bones – while the seasoning is left up to each person at the table. In our version, we add a significant amount of flavor by cooking the rice in chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make it vegetarian) along with ginger, garlic, scallions, and dried mushrooms. A simple drizzle of soy sauce and sesame oil at the end makes this an endless bowl of comfort.
This recipe is ultimately flexible as well. Use short grain, arborio, or even brown rice (just not basmati, it’s too delicate) and whatever combination of liquid you can put together just as long as the ratio is 1 part rice : 10 parts liquid. Add more or less of anything according to your taste. Every family has their own way of making congee, and now you will too.
Classic Chinese Congee
Cook Time:1.5 hours
Yield: 4-6 servings
For the congee:
- 1 cup long grain rice, washed and drained 3 times
- 9 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water (or any combination)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 20 dried shiitake mushrooms, washed and patted dry, separated
- 2″ knob of ginger, peeled if desired, and sliced into thin discs
- 2 scallions, trimmed and cut in half
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Dried shiitake mushrooms (from above), rehydrated in hot water and sliced into strips
- Scallions, sliced finely
- Ginger, julienned into thin strips
- Soy sauce
- Sesame Oil
- Hot sauce (like Sriracha or chili garlic sauce)
- Optional: shredded cooked chicken, Chinese BBQ pork, cooked shrimp
- In a large bowl, rehydrated all of the dried shiitake mushrooms by covering them with boiling water. Allow to sit for 20 minutes.
- In a large pot, add the rice, broth, salt, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Remove 8 of the shiitake mushrooms from the hot water and add to the pot. Add 1 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid to the pot. Drain the remaining mushrooms and slice them into thin strips for garnish. Set aside.
- Bring the pot to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until the rice breaks down and thickens into a porridge, about 1 hour if you like a thinner consistency and 1 1/2 hours for a thicker consistency (which we prefer). If you find that the congee is becoming dry before the rice breaks down, add a splash of water or broth to loosen.
- Add the 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Remove the whole scallions and slices of ginger. Leave the garlic and whole shiitake mushrooms.
- To serve, serve each person a bowl of the congee and lay out all of the accompaniments so everyone can add to their liking. Or, if you want to serve each person individually, to each bowl add a small pile each of sliced mushrooms, ginger, and scallions. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon each of sesame oil and soy sauce and add a small dot of hot sauce if desired.
“ I’m a former chef so my cooking is aggressive, big-flavored, and unapologetic. I incorporate inspiration from around the world into my food, using bold spices and seasonal ingredients to make hearty, satisfying dishes. ”
In addition to being the “Chief Nosher” at NoshOn.It, Vijay is a “recovering” professional chef who has been in the restaurant and food world for over a decade. His food is always hearty, satisfying, and flavorful – a style influenced by his Texan upbringing and Indian heritage. This dish is one of his staples and, luckily, something that the NoshOn.It team has enjoyed on many occasions!
Make sure to say hello to Vijay on Twitter.
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