Congee is one of the most ancient foods known, I learned recently from Wikipedia. Other names for this thick, rice porridge are chan, chi, hsan, kanji, baw baw, juk, chok, canja and mi. The Frugal Gourmet used to call it “jook.” It originated in China thousands of years ago, and Emperor Huang Di used to cook it with millet. The word congee comes from Tamil.
I find it to be a true comfort food, and versatile enough to enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner or whenever. The Chinese restaurants in my neighbourhood offer it augmented with a variety of proteins. If eggs are included in your diet, then hard cooked, sliced ones might be a nice addition, as would also be swirling beaten egg into rapidly boiling congee. Other veggie ideas to put in are cream-style corn, diced tofu, cooked sliced mushrooms or crushed peanuts. An extra fancy topping is crispy fried onion slices.
You could make congee simply by boiling rice in water, but more flavourful and nutritious is to use broth.
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- salt (to taste – depending on whether you start with salt-free broth)
- 1 tsp shredded fresh ginger, or ½ tsp grated, or ¼ tsp powdered
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- 2 – 3 green onions, sliced
- Bring broth to boil, covered, in a large saucepan or pot.
- Stir rice and spices into the stock.
- When mixture boils, reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes, or until congee reaches your desired consistency. Stir in sesame oil.
- Optional: Stir in creamed corn or beaten egg (or both) into simmering congee just before serving. Or add any combination of sliced hard-cooked egg, diced tofu, cooked sliced mushrooms, fried onions or crushed peanuts. Garnish with green onion slices.