It’s a bit hard to see in the photo, but underneath the greens, sticky pork, poached egg, crispity ginger and garlic bits, and drizzle of tamari is…congee, or rice porridge.
At it’s most basic, congee is rice cooked for a long time in quite a lot of liquid, until the rice breaks down into a porridge. The rice can be cooked in water or broth, seasoned or unseasoned, until thin or thick, and topped with anything you like.
For this version, the rice is cooked in broth seasoned with ginger and star anise, into a medium-bodied porridge. It’s incredibly soothing to eat on its own – and if you’re recovering from illness, there are few things that taste better – but is also a beautiful canvas for a variety of savory toppings and textures.
To me, this is pure comfort food, appropriate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Congee can be made in a big batch in an Instant Pot and reheated, so top it with a fried egg for a quick and hearty breakfast. Or take it to lunch and reheat in the microwave.
Or on a really cold night, put on some sexy music and simmer it slowly on the stovetop, taking your time to dance as you make several toppings to really gild the lily. I’ve even served it for dinner parties, having guests add the toppings that they most love.
I’ve been making congee for years, particularly for friends recovering from illness. I was finally inspired to share the recipe after a memorably delicious bowl at Hai Hai recently, one of my favorite restaurants here in Minneapolis. That lovely brunch, combined with the stress of realizing I don’t like the dress I bought to wear to my little sister’s wedding next weekend (panic!), made me remember that I need its soothing comfort in my life more often.
And so do you.
(If you’re local, definitely treat yourself to Hai Hai’s version, it’s on their brunch menu. And regarding the dress, don’t worry, I’ve found a back-up solution. 😂)
Below I give you the basic recipe. To me, it requires damn good broth, which you can find here. Or use turkey broth if you made it after Thanksgiving! If you make a big batch of congee, you can freeze the extra – just make sure to freeze it plain (without toppings).
If you make congee and ‘gram it, make sure to tag me – I’m @stephanie.a.meyer.
As we close out the year, I recorded this video about One Simple Trick to Create Lasting Change in 2020. I hope you enjoy it! You can catch it here on YouTube as well.
PS I’ve recently completed the manuscript on a new paleo cookbook called Paleo in 30 Minutes. It will be published in the spring of 2020 – hooray! If you’d like to be notified of its publication and book events, sign up here.
1 cup jasmine (or any) rice
6 cups rich chicken broth
Sea salt (if stock is salted, skip until the end; otherwise add 1/2 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 star anise pod or 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1-inch strip of orange peel (optional)
Simmer all ingredients for 1 hour, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until rice breaks down into a medium-thick porridge. Discard star anise & citrus peel. Season with salt to taste.
Serve simply, with chopped scallions and a drizzle of tamari, or choose more toppings from below.
To reheat leftover congee, use a bit of broth or water to thin to original consistency.
For Instant Pot: pressure cook high for 45 minutes. Turn off for 15 minutes then release pressure.
Poached or fried egg
Braised beef, chicken, or pork
Drizzle of sesame oil
Drizzle of tamari
Minced garlic and ginger fried until crispy