Rice congee, or rice porridge, is a very popular dish in Asia. It is often eaten for breakfast, supper, or as a substitute for rice, and there are many different styles - thick, thin, plain, or boiled with other ingredients. My favourite style is the traditional Cantonese style of congee, where the rice has been boiled a long time and has broken down into a very smooth, medium-thick liquid.
Although congee is available all over Hong Kong, I still like to make it at home (for dinner). It's the laziness speaking again, but I usually follow my mother's recipe and make chicken congee, which is basically just boiling a roast chicken, rice and water together until the rice and chicken are both soft and tender. If you have a large rice cooker, making congee is a snap. However it is also easy to make in a large pot, and if you like the rice in your congee smooth and broken down as I do, I discovered a quick and easy method of making smooth congee without having to boil it for hours.
(Chicken) Rice Congee
(makes a large pot, enough for 4+ servings)
240g rice1. In a medium-sized saucepan, add the rice and some cold water. Swirl the rice around the pot with your hand to "wash" it. Pour away the water and repeat, until the water runs clear. Drain, then add 2 cups cold water.
half roast chicken (with or without the skin)
chicken stock (optional)
spring onions and ginger (optional, as garnish)
2. Cover the saucepan and bring the rice and water to a boil. When it is boiling, remove the lid and allow the rice and water to continue boiling on medium high heat. Stir the rice frequently with a plastic ladle.
3. When you see most of the liquid has been evaporated or absorbed by the rice, stir and mash the rice with the ladle. This aids the rice in breaking down faster. When most of the liquid has disappeared, stir another 1/2 cup of cold water into the rice.
4. Continue to stir and mash, and add another 1/2 cup cold water into the rice. Continue mashing the rice with the ladle until it is soft and the grains have broken down.
5. Once the rice is soft and mushy, add more water and stir until you reach the consistency of congee you like - this may be thick, or thinner, according to your preference. Add the roast chicken. You may need to transfer everything to a larger pot at this stage. If you are making plain congee, boil the congee for a bit longer, then season as per Step 7.
6. Boil the rice and chicken until the chicken is tender. The rice will thicken slightly again, so add a little more water if necessary. Pick out the chicken bones before serving (or if you are lazy like me, and not feeding this congee to children, you can leave them in!)
7. Taste and season with white pepper, salt, and some chicken stock (if required). Sprinkle some chopped spring onions and ginger on top before serving (optional).
Optional: If you have some chicken/turkey/pork bones lying around (!), you can use this as stock for additional flavour. Put the bones in another pot, cover them with water and boil. Keep the stock liquid boiling as you boil the rice, and add the stock liquid to the rice instead of the plain water.
Tip: Instead of chicken, you can also add fish fillets, or minced pork.