Growing up in a Cantonese household, congee was a staple. Though I would say most times we would go out and enjoy this little rice porridge wonder, where loud clinkety restaurants tucked away in the suburbs of Toronto would serve piping hot, giant bowls of this magic filled with flavor and congee toppings.
Just like chicken noodle soup claims to have healing powers, to me, congee is an easy and smooth meal to have when your insides need a little love. While you can get these fairly accessibly priced at a restaurant at the side of the road while in Hong Kong, or at a great restaurant in your city, it’s a satisfying and easy way to stretch a bag of rice and feed a whole lot of people at once! I love making a batch of this congee and storing it in the fridge as a meal prep. Oh, and it freezes so beautifully (definitely would recommend trying that).
The key to making silky simple congee is to simmer it so that the grains break down. I always want to consistently stir and check on the pot to see the status of the white jasmine rice grains. If they’re still pretty in tact, it’s a sign to let it keep cooking. Also, I love to add homemade broth and aromatics into the cooking process so that there’s added flavor. Without it, your congee will be really plain!
Go as meat-y as you want and as veggie as you want with congee. Traditionally, egg, pork, and seafood are all fair game. Depending on what I have the fridge, I’ll get creative and probably a little more modern with my take on congee. Hemp hearts are a great plant based protein addition!
Here’s a simple vegan congee recipe for those cold days or days that you just could use a little comfort (can be adapted to be an instant pot congee):
- 1.5 cups of Jasmine Rice
- 1 Knob of Ginger - sliced / cut into match sticks
- 1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon White Pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 Tablespoon Garlic
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 3 Cups of water, 1 cup of veggie broth with additional as you boil
- 1 Green Onion, cut on a bias
- 1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil
- Rinse the Jasmine Rice until the water runs clear
- Heat pot with sesame oil, ginger, and garlic until fragrant
- Add jasmine rice with water and broth, and leave to simmer on low to medium heat for 1 hour, checking and stirring consistently to make sure nothing burns / sticks. Make sure to watch for rice consistency - you want the grains to break down into a silky porridge texture. Add water if you feel necessary
- Add white pepper to taste
- Serve with sesame oil, green onions, and additional toppings (I like to add mushrooms, hemp hearts (non traditional, I know), and a protein of choice.