If you’ve never tried congee, then I’m sorry to break it to you my friend, you’ve been deprived.
I too felt this same sense of deprivation the moment a friend introduced me to this ultra comforting dish.
So what is congee?
Also known as “jook”, congee (pronounced con-jee) is a chinese broken rice dish. Traditionally, it looks like a thick white broken rice soup garnished with some chopped spring onions, chicken and soy sauce.
But over here in Jade Walker world, we never do things traditionally. I like to cram as much goodness into any meal I make, and that’s exactly what you get in my BEST EVER chicken congee.
The good thing about congee, is you can mix it up to your liking. I LOVE a lot of ginger, as well as some turmeric and garlic for those extra anti-inflammatory and immune-loving properties.
But it’s the toppings that really make it. A good serving of asian greens, or kale and spinach, along with a good lug of tamari (gluten free soy sauce) and sesame seeds, finished with some crunch from fried shallots or sesame seeds, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate winter comfort food.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can still make it just as delicious. In fact I first discovered congee when I was vegan, and would pack it with exotic mushrooms like oyster, shiitake and enoki, and some sauteed tofu.
The best thing is, this dish shouldn’t take you anymore than 30 minutes when cooked in a pressure cooker. But if you don’t have one, don’t sweat it. You can get the exact same results in a stove-top pot, but it will take around 1-2 hours and you’ll need to watch it more regularly.
- Pressure cooker
- Fry pan
The congee base
- 2 cups rice jasmine or brown
- 8 cups liquid stock chicken, vegetable or mushroom
- 4-6 tbs ginger freshly grated
To add with it
- 2 chicken breasts (or cubed tofu) whole
- 2-4 cups mushrooms, sliced button, shiitake and oyster are great
- 2 tsp turmeric powder or freshly grated
- Sea salt and pepper
Toppings (all optional)
- 4 cups Asian greens, chopped Pak choi, bok choy, chinese broccoli
- 4-6 Spring onions/scallions, sliced Use white part for cooking, and reserve green part for garnish
- Crunchy fried onions
- A fried egg
- Seaseme seeds
- Sesame oil
- Tamari or light soy sauce (Tamari is gluten free soy sauce)
- (Optional. If you don't want mushrooms, jump to the next step) Turn the pressure cooker on and saute mushrooms in some ghee or olive oil. Add a sprinkle of salt to draw out the liquid, and enhance their flavour. Saute until reduced in size and slightly browned (approx 5 minutes)
- Add the rice, stock, ginger and whole chicken breasts or tofu. Lock the pressure cooker lid in place, and set for 12 minutes. I've used the meat and rice setting and both work just the same.
- Meanwhile, roughly chop your Chinese greens (2-3cm wide) and throw in a pan with the spring onion white parts with a drizzle of sesame oil and a dash of tamari. Saute only until wilted down, but still vibrant green – approx 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. At this point you could also fry up an egg.
- Once pressure cooker has finished, release the pressure.
- Using tongs, remove chicken breasts and place on a chopping board. To shred the chicken, hold the chicken breast with tongs, and shred off pieces of chicken with a fork.
- Taste your congee and add a good crack of sea salt and pepper until seasoned to your liking (the additional tamari will add some more salt when you garnish, so don't make the congee too salty). At this point you may add more stock or water if you'd like it more soupy, or you can leave it thick like porridge. I like mine somewhere in between.
- To assemble this beautiful bowl of goodness, place a nice amount of congee into your bowl. Top with chicken and greens. Drizzle with sesame oil and tamari, and sprinkle with sliced spring onion, fried onions and/or sesame seeds.