Ahh, congee, we go way back.
I’ve had it at a street-stall in Cambodia, topped with a heap of white pepper.
I’ve had it piping hot, from a cart in a dim sum restaurant, dotted with shredded pork, century eggs, and scallions.
I’ve had it for breakfast at practically every hotel in Asia I’ve ever stayed at. Watery, thick, plain, salty, the varieties are endless.
Congee, also known as ‘jook’ in some parts of China, is a rice porridge commonly eaten for breakfast. Much like oatmeal here in the States, it’s boiled in water. It can be eaten plain, but is most often enjoyed with a variety of toppings. While oatmeal is generally sweet, topped with fruit, sugar, or nuts, congee is savory, dotted with chunks of meat or seafood, eggs, scallions, and sometimes white pepper.
This recipe is for a classic Chinese congee, made with diced pork and century eggs, then topped with ginger, scallions, and sesame oil. I add a dash of white pepper because that bowl of congee in Cambodia changed me, not sure if it’s Chinese or not.
Wait, what’s a century egg?
A century egg is a cured egg (usually duck) preserved in a mixture of ash, clay, and salt. No, it’s not a hundred years old. Over weeks or months the egg changes in color, texture, and flavor.
Once peeled they appear black and take on a distinct umami flavor. The yolks become super creamy, while the whites turn almost jelly like.
They can be eaten as is, with soy sauce, or cooked in various dishes, like congee.
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 8 cups water (or equal parts broth)
- 1 dash fish sauce Optional
- 1/2 cup shredded or diced meat (cooked previously, I used diced salted pork)
- 2 century eggs (diced)
- 1 inch peeled fresh ginger (cut into miniature matchsticks) Optional
- 1 scallion (chopped thin) Optional
- 1 dash white pepper Optional
- sesame oil (for topping)
Step One: Rinse your rice two to three times with water. Most recommend rinsing until the water runs clear, but I’m generally too lazy to do that. Two to three times is fine.
Step Two: Add your rice and water to a large pot.
I like my congee thick, so my preferred ratio is one part rice to eight parts water, adjust to your liking if you like it thinner. Bring it to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer. Let it simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step Three: When your rice is cooked, the grains start breaking apart, and it reaches a consistency you like, add your fish sauce, meat, and century eggs. If it’s thick, continue stirring to ensure the bottom doesn’t burn. Turn off the heat and salt to taste.
Step Four: Serve hot and top it with whatever your heart desires. I chose ginger, scallions, white pepper, and sesame oil.