Think, Read, Cook

Because no single way of eating works for everybody.

Congee: All Things to All People



It’s theoretically springtime, but the weather here is still chilly, still damp. It’s time to put on a pot of congee, for that warm, cozy feeling.

You don’t have to be Chinese, Vietnamese, or Japanese to love this stuff. Congee, sometimes called juk or jook, is rice porridge, usually savoury rather than sweet, cooked long enough to make a hot, comforting kind of thick soup. And if that idea doesn’t really turn you on, consider this: you can make it taste like absolutely anything on the face of the earth.

My husband, whose family came from China to Canada before he was born, would disagree, because he prefers his congee with Chinese-style garnishes. But I remind him that I learned to put crushed barbecue-flavoured potato chips in my congee from his mother – and she was from China, so she had cred. I know where my husband is coming from, though. For him, congee was a childhood comfort food, and he likes it best the way he first enjoyed it. And also, I think he’s not too crazy about barbecue chips!

Below is the recipe for basic congee. It’s a blank slate on which you can write anything you want. After the basic recipe, have a look at the variations and ideas you can use with congee. You’ll likely agree that congee has international possibilities its inventors never would have considered. But you should. ‘Cause they’re tasty.  🙂


Basic Congee


3/4 cup long grain rice

9 cups water, or half soup stock and half water

1 teaspoon salt, if not using soup stock



1.  Bring liquid and rice to a boil in a large pot.

2.  When boiling, lower heat to medium-low. Cover pot with lid, leaving a little room for steam to escape.

3.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until congee is thick and creamy, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

4.  Add salt, desired seasonings, and cooked meat if desired. Serve with garnishes of your choice.


Now that you’ve got your basic congee – your blank slate – here are some ideas for making it nutritious and interesting. Traditional Chinese garnishes include green onions, soy sauce, shredded meat, and peanuts. But read on… there’s a whole world out there. And this doesn’t even touch on the possibility of dessert congee!

 Congee Ideas

Pulled pork congee

Barbecued chicken congee

Minced pork congee

Mapo tofu congee

Curry congee (Tikka Masala, Madras curry, whatever kind you like)

Bacon and tomato congee

Garlic shrimp congee

Shredded chicken and corn congee

Ham congee

Ham, pineapple, oregano and tomato congee (Hawaiian pizza congee!)

Sweet and sour pork/ chicken congee

Sausage marinara congee

Jambalaya congee (congee serves as the rice component)

Honey garlic pork congee

Chili con carne congee (no beans)

Scrambled egg and sausage/ bacon congee

Mixed grill congee, ie. whatever leftover meat bits you’ve got in the fridge

Creole congee (chicken, shrimp, or both)

Sliced beef congee

Sliced marinated Korean beef bulgogi congee

Shredded pork with pickled Chinese vegetables congee

Diced chicken with vegetables and almonds congee

Ginger beef congee

Hot dog congee

Egyptian lentil stew congee

Mixed leftovers and hot sauce congee (’cause everything’s better with hot sauce)

Buffalo wings congee (it is a natural progression)

Meatball congee

Teriyaki chicken or beef congee

Beef, tomato, onion and ginger congee

Wonton congee

Mixed mushroom congee

Beef and mushroom congee

Steak and kidney congee

Chicken a la king congee with mushrooms and pimentos

Roasted red pepper and balsamic vinegar congee, with or without rosemary

Grilled mushroom and sherry vinegar congee

Pickled octopus congee

Roasted garlic and artichoke heart congee

Hoisin chicken and gai lan congee

Beef and peaches congee

Duck and apricot congee

Chinese-style barbecued goose congee

Char siu pork congee

Lemon chicken congee

Szechuan eggplant congee

Shredded pork with garlic and ginger congee

Thai basil beef congee

Coconut curry congee

Curry leaf and meat congee


Any more ideas?


13 comments on “Congee: All Things to All People

  1. judy
    April 16, 2013

    Ok. I cannot understand what ‘pulled’ meat means. And a don’t understand how the options are added. Cooked with the rice. Next to the rice? And so little salt? Rice needs a ton of it. How’s yr kitty?

    • thinkreadcook
      April 16, 2013

      “Pulled” pork or chicken means the meat has been slow-simmered in a sauce and then pulled apart. If you’ve made this and have leftovers, they go wonderfully in congee.

      To add the options, it depends on how you want to do it. You can put them into the basic congee, or cook them in with the rice.

      You’ll likely find more salt will make congee too salty, but it’s to your taste – if there’s not enough, add more. It also depends on how salty your options are. Experiment!

      My cat’s doing pretty well, though a little shaky. How’s yours? 🙂

  2. judy
    April 16, 2013

    Tku. He’s not walking to well. Sometimes a back leg crosses over the other one. He’s not complaining. Does all he should. Keeping an eye on him.u

  3. Sam Han
    April 16, 2013

    Mapo tofu congee sounds very interesting! I love congee and I love spicy food. I usually eat mapo tofu with rice but now that you mentioned this, gotta try it one of these days.

    • thinkreadcook
      April 17, 2013

      I’m flattered! 🙂 I’ve had it this way; it’s delicious, especially on a cold day when you really need something to thaw you out.

  4. Amateur Cook
    April 17, 2013

    About a year or two or so ago I discovered the (amazing) congee. Like you I searched and studied up on recipes for it, for health benefit reasons most of all. It is a wonderful cleansing food to eat and enjoy. Congee has saved me.

  5. Sam Han
    April 19, 2013

    It’s always hot and humid here in Singapore but I still love a bowl of chilli/spicy with anything and everything 😉

  6. judy
    April 19, 2013

    Even in our summers which are awfull, air conditioner on for 16 hrs a day everyday, give me a good spicey curry. I’m drooling just thinking of my chicken curry and red rice, which is delicious. How good is red rice for us?

    • thinkreadcook
      April 22, 2013

      I honestly don’t know whether red rice is much better for people than white rice. Rice in general isn’t very nutritious. But it’s got an appealing texture, and a flavour that goes with anything. I, too, love chicken curry and rice! 🙂

  7. judy
    April 22, 2013

    Have you ever tasted red rice? I find it much tastier than white rice. Brown is supposed to be good. I know it’s healthier but my grandkids will only eat white.

    • thinkreadcook
      April 22, 2013

      I have tasted red rice, and it’s delicious – so is black rice!

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