Congee or rice porridge is a common ‘sick people’ or baby food. It’s tasty and easy to digest. When I was young, my go-to sick food was chicken porridge or KFC mashed potatoes. When you have a cough, the doctor will advice to not have oily foods, but I will still add sesame oil to my porridge (while my mother looks away). That’s like the best part about porridge!! Tons of heavenly sesame oil.
Other than it being a ‘sick people’ or baby food, porridge is also eaten for breakfast or actually anytime you wish to. Nowadays, I cook it on my lazy days and on cold winter days. The ginger in it gives out a nice warm feeling in the tummy. However, if using as baby food, you normally do not add any seasoning to it. So just plain porridge with a choice of protein and veggies all blended together.
Most Chinese restaurants in Malaysia cook it on request, some even specialise in it. You can even buy instant porridge in cups or packets where you just need to add boiling water to it.
So what is rice porridge? It’s just plain white rice that has been boiled with lots of water until the rice breaks down and becomes thick and gooey. You can also use your own choice of meat, such as chicken, pork or fish. It’s also a great way to use up leftover rice if you do not feel like having fried rice. The basic condiments are spring onions, julienned ginger, fried onions. Other condiments (when available) include pork or chicken floss (rousong), pickled mustard plant (zha cai), and fried chinese crullers (char kway). For added seasoning, add sesame oil, light soy sauce, and white pepper.
There are two ways I use to cook rice porridge. The first is by cooking it manually over the stove top in a large pot. The second is by using the rice cooker, so all I need to do is mix in the ingredients and press a button and stir every now and then.
In Switzerland, I have yet to see a Chinese restaurant have porridge on their menu. That’s basically not a problem, but when I am sick…porridge is all I crave for. But I do not want to be standing and stirring at the stove while I am sick. I use to also not really want to cook porridge because I am the only one who used to eat it. My husband always had the notion that my rice porridge was sweet, like grits or oats. It took me 3 years to convince him to even have a spoon of it. Now, he loves it! He even eats more servings than I do and requests it all the time.
- 1½ cups White Rice (jasmine), washed
- 8 cups (+/-) Water
- 2 pieces Chicken Breast, sliced
- 2-inch Ginger, sliced
- To taste Salt & White Pepper
- 2 tablespoons Sesame Oil
- Spring Onions
- Fried Onions
- Ginger, julienned
- Salt & White Pepper
- Sesame Oil
- Light Soy Sauce
Directions for rice cooker:
- Wash rice till water runs clear in rice pot.
- Add water, ginger, chicken, sesame oil, salt, and pepper.
- Press cook. This will take about an hour.
- Stir occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom.
- Once rice has broken down, you can adjust the thickness of the porridge. If it’s still too watery, cook it longer and if it’s too thick, add more water.
- Add choice of condiments. Serve.
Directions for stove top:
- Follow directions above, just use a large pot.
- Do not fill rice cooker with water exceeding ¾ of the pot. You can always start with less water than the required and add the rest later.
- You may not need all the required water. Reduce or add water depending on the consistency you prefer.
- If using already cooked rice, use a ladle to break up any rice clumps first.
- If using fish, add it after the porridge has been cooked. Gently stir it in and cook porridge again till fish is cooked, about 4-5 minutes.
- 1 cup rice = 185 grams
- Cups to Grams conversions