I first came across congee over a decade ago while working in retail during my early uni days. As I was feeling a little worse for wear after a big night, a fellow colleague gave me a bowl of congee she’d made the night before and it made me feel ten times better. A Chinese student here to study business, Wing would get homesick and then cook a bunch of treats, and then bring copious amounts of leftovers to me in exchange for me editing the English in her homework.
I thought it was glorious despite being completely thrown by the concept of savory rice porridge at the time – and started making it at home. Thus my decade-long love affair with the dish began.
The best thing about congee is how the simplicity of the porridge itself means you can go nuts with toppings. This is my latest favourite combination, and works perfectly as a breakfast/brunch dish, which is the time congee is traditionally consumed.
For the Congee
4 pieces chicken (I use 2 legs and 2 wings)
1½ cups rice
10 cups water or chicken stock (I prefer chicken)
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp finely julienned fresh ginger
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Finely sliced spring onions
Finely sliced red chilli
Light soy sauce or fish sauce (or both if you’re a salty mofo)
Add all ingredients for marinade together and mix well. Add to the pork mince and set aside.
Place all congee ingredients except the ginger in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn heat down to medium and braise for at least an hour (rice should be broken and the mixture should have a porridge-like texture). If too thick for your liking, feel free to add more water/stock.
3.Once the congee is cooked, discard chicken and onion. Add the julienned ginger about ten minutes before the end of the cooking process.
PLEASE NOTE: I like to shred the chicken from the legs and add it to the congee as well – something about the chicken being slow-cooked in the rice porridge makes it super tender and delicious.
Towards the end of the porridge cooking time, poach your eggs. Crack the eggs all at once straight into a deep saucepan of near-boiling water and a dash of vinegar and cook for two minutes. Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on a sheet of baking paper while you cook the mince.
Add the marinated pork mince to a wok or frypan with a drizzle of some vegetable or sesame oil and cook until all liquid has gone and the meat has browned.
To assemble, divide the congee between four bowls. Top each with the minced pork and a poached egg, and then with the coriander, spring onions and shallots, and any of the condiments you fancy. Break into that delicious yolk and slurp it up, slurp-style!