Congee is one of those dishes that is a absolute staple in Chinese families and yet it’s not something that is widely known to the masses.
Congee is a popular food to give to children and babies because it is simple so easy on the stomach. My babies will be raised on this stuff, I promise you! (well…and carrots).
It’s great when you’re not feeling well. It’s a comfort food without all the unhealthiness of other comfort meals!
My English other half had never ever heard of it and never tried it until he we started dating and now he loves it. A friend of mine is English and is married to a Chinese man and thinks it reminds her of wallpaper paste. Perhaps Congee, or Juk (as it’s pronounced in Chinese) is a love or hate thing?
Congee is basically a rice porridge. The rice is cooked until it breaks down and becomes a soft porridge like consistency and it can be as thick or thin as the cook prefers. It sounds so simple but trust me I screwed it up a few times when trying to make this because I used a ‘easy cook’ rice (food of the devil).
I don’t know what they put on easy cook rice but it seems like it’s some kind of coating which means the damn thing will NOT break down, ever. I guess this suits people who can’t cook rice to save their lives, but for congee, it is absolutely not suitable!
Just use simple long grain rice (white).
You need a very small amount of rice compared to water and you keep adding it as you go along. To serve 6 adults my mother used 1 cup of rice. To serve 2 you’d need a 3rd.
Wash the rice and wash it really really well, then leave it for an hour in a sprinkling of sugar and a dash of oil.
You must soak the rice in salt and oil! If you are in a rush leave it for 30 minutes but it is important that you do do this step.
Add some cold water to make the congee. We need to add about double the amount of water to rice (you will add more later on).
By the way – as you can imagine, congee is very plain on its own although you can have it with absolute minimal flavouring! But we don’t want it plain this time! We are going to add peanut and pork. Beef never seems to work well with this type of cooking so I’d stick to pork or chicken if you are a meat eater.
Here is the pork – pork ribs is ideal for this but mother noted that it is really really hard to cut it unless you have a meat cleaver! You can use general pork meat off the bone for this too.
Marinate the meat in salt, pepper (white) and a dash of sesame oil for 30 mins or more if you can.
Put the rice on the hob and bring it to the boil then reduce the heat. ADD 3 SLICES OF GINGER! Let it cook with the congee but don’t eat it later on!
You should have it gently boiling for about 1 and a half to 2 hours IN TOTAL. You need to come back to it every 20 minutes to take a look, add more water if it is looking dry or too thick, but try not to stir it too much at the base of the pot.
After 1and a half hours you can add the peanuts. If your congee breaks up sooner then you can add the peanuts quicker. To prepare the peanuts, soak them in hot water so the skin is easy to remove. I personally don’t do this, I find it quite easy to remove the skin. As you can see, mother de-skinned some of the peanuts then couldn’t be bothered doing the rest!
Add a handful of peanuts!
Add the meat! We are going to cook the congee until this is cooked! Add more water.
After around 20 minutes the meat should be cooked through – once it is, it should look like this:
See the texture of the congee? In the end, we added about 6 cups of water to 1 cup of rice but this is completely adjustable. The best texture is like in the photo above, it’s watery enough to be eaten like a soup but not thick and uncomfortable to eat!
Here is the finished rice porridge. I have it with soy sauce (light) and lots of (well a reasonable amount!) of white pepper!
Congee is alwas eaten with this deep fried dough pastry! Always! You soak it until it is soft and squidgy then bite!
Would you make this or does it just seem odd?!