What is Congee and How to Make it

Have you ever tried a bowl of congee, the savoury rice porridge dish that fills breakfast bowls for billions at breakfast time across Asia as well as being highly regarded for its restorative properties.

While congee’s merits are nothing new, it’s a dish riding the crest of a new wave of enthusiasm, fostering the attentions of three Michelin star chefs and foodies, and with reason.

What is congee?

Simply put, congee or rice gruel, jook or khao tom moo is a porridge made by boiling white rice in water until it is saturated with liquid and the grains begin to break down, forming a viscous porridge-like consistency. It’s popular across Asia particularly at breakfast time, although it can equally be enjoyed at other times of the day, or night.

Not only does it promise a hug from inside, it’s also gluten-free, and a great way of using up leftovers.

How do you make congee?

There are countless ways to make congee, which is why it’s such a personal and versatile dish that cooks can add their own signature flavours to.

Once you have the blank canvas of the porridge-like white rice, congee can be served in any number of ways and topped off with your chosen ingredients.

Try adding meats or fish, or vegetarian options, and get creative with some tasty seasoning. White pepper, soy sauce, spring onions, fried won ton skin and peanuts are great, or why not try a poached egg, salted duck eggs or avocado for the ultimate love in a bowl?

Chef’s congee

Three Michelin star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten‘s brand new New York ABCV vegetarian restaurant features forbidden rice and millet congee on the breakfast menu complete with strips of nori, fermented chili paste and mushrooms cooked with fermented black beans.

USA Top Chef’s Mei Lin whips up a congee with soy caramelised pork, crispy shallots and black garlic, developing rich, tangy and sweet flavours.

While martial artist Bruce Lee was fond of his wife Linda throwing in liver or other offal cuts such as kidney, brains or heart.

If that sounds a stretch too far, there are plenty of vegetarian options to try using tofu and aromatic ingredients to infuse flavour, like ginger. Or take the Congee Queens lead, a band of four female chefs in Brooklyn using congee as a vehicle to squash fast food with love.

Watch how this chef prepares his congee:

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