Congee, or rice porridge, often is considered an Asian comfort food — and an Asian version of risotto. Its prolonged cooking time breaks down the rice, resulting in a thick, creamy and hearty porridge.
This dish can be eaten plain or cooked with vegetables, seasonings or a protein food — such as chicken, meat or fish — and topped with savory or sweet condiments. Congee typically is eaten for breakfast (even with its savory flavors) or as a late supper main dish. Depending on the ingredients chosen, congee can be vegetarian or vegan. In some cultures, congee substitutes for cooked rice as a side dish.
Made with brown rice, congee is another way to fit whole grains into the day … and it's gluten-free.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup sliced fresh oyster, shiitake or portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, cut in 3 pieces, optional
1 cup brown rice
9 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water, or a combination
2 cups (4 ounces) chopped bok choy (Chinese cabbage), optional
Low-sodium soy sauce, to taste
Chopped hard-cooked egg
Cooked shredded chicken or turkey
Toasted sesame seeds
Sliced green onions
Sliced bamboo shoots
Sautéed chopped onions
Chopped fresh cilantro, parsley or mint
Pickled ginger root
Before you begin: Wash your hands.
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms, ginger root, garlic and lemongrass, if desired; cook and stir until mushrooms soften.
- Mix in rice and broth or water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, tilting lid to let steam escape. Cook for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in bok choy. Continue to cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, until rice is thick, creamy and to the consistency you prefer; stir occasionally to keep rice from sticking to the pot.
- Season to taste with soy sauce. Remove lemongrass if used. Serve hot with one or more condiments of your choice.
- Because congee takes time to cook, make it ahead, refrigerate and reheat within a day or two to serve. The consistency will be thicker, but this also gives time for the flavors to blend.
- Congee can be made into a dessert by cooking 1 cup brown rice with 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut and 2 tablespoons honey in 9 cups water for about 90 minutes. Top with fresh sliced fruit (e.g., mango, papaya, pineapple, dates).
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 170; Calories from fat: 30; Total fat: 3.5g; Saturated fat: 0g; Trans fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 5mg; Sodium: 230mg; Total carbohydrate: 30g; Dietary fiber: 2g; Sugars: 2g; Protein: 3g