So I’ve been really into congee lately. Unlike the vast majority of folks whose affairs with congee start with freezing weather or a bout of the flu, I simply the read the word “porridge” somewhere and I was in it, man. For those of you who do not make a habit of oddly intense and short-lived cooking “expeditions” that lead your girlfriend to say things like, “That… is three different pans of cookies. Are we having a party?” most weekends, this is probably a tendency that calls to mind a lot of synonyms for “kinda dumb,” but this is generally how my cooking life works! And right now, fair readers, right now I am downright crazy about congee.
According to Wikipedia, “Congee or conjee is a type of rice porridge or gruel popular in many Asian countries.” Wow! “Gruel”! Excellent word choice for MAXIMUM UNAPPEAL, anonymous Wikipedia editor! What it should say is “Congee is a type of rice porridge popular in many Asian countries that is the GREATEST, because you already have all of the ingredients in your pantry! Really! I know!”
The magic of congee though, you guys, is that congee is whatever you dream for it to be. Would you like savory congee with egg and tofu and 800 kinds of veggies and also maybe your roommate’s Thai leftovers from the other night? CONGEE CAN BE THAT FOR YOU! Would you like your congee with peaches and vanilla and walnuts for breakfast? YES OF COURSE YOU WOULD DON’T WORRY CONGEE IS THERE FOR YOU.
“I GOT TIME AND A BOOK” CONGEE
This is not congee for after work. This is congee for a Sunday night. The kind of congee that you make while you’re at the Laundromat, is what I’m saying.
1 Cup Long-Grain Rice*
9 Cups Water (or broth)
1 Teaspoon Salt
1. Grab a large pot, and bring the rice, liquid and salt to a boil.
2. Turn it down to a simmer, and cover loosely with a lid.
3. Read an article. Bone your girlfriend. Stir occasionally for 1 ½ hours, or until it reaches your desired consistency. I like mine a little thicker, which takes a tad longer. I can read several articles, basically.
4. Congratulations! You have congee!
*Note: I usually make this with brown rice, and it takes a bit longer to cook…2-3 hours instead of 1 ½. Think about all of the episodes of Bob’s Burgers you can watch!
“I AM TIRED AND EVERYTHING IS AWFUL” CONGEE
This is my favorite kind of congee because on weeknights I mainly want to come home from gently prodding my beautiful, free-spirited and loose-with-a-deadline freelancers and stare at the ceiling.
1 Cup of Leftover Cooked Rice (of any sort!)
1 Cup Water or Broth
1 Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Cornstarch or Rice Flour (optional)
1. In a pot of appropriate size, bring the rice, liquid and salt to a boil.
2. Turn it down to a simmer, let it do its thing for 10 minutes.
3. If you like your congee on the thicker side, whisk cornstarch or rice flour with a little bit of cold water separately, and add the slurry to your congee.
4. Cook 3-5 minutes more.
OH LOOK, IT’S CONGEE.
AWESOME THINGS TO ADD TO CONGEE
Literally any food item in a pleasant configuration can be added to congee. That’s what makes it the aforementioned greatest. Here are some suggestions!
Sauté any configuration of these things with soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar and it will taste great I promise.
Eggs (fried or raw! Add them raw and then they cook in the hot congee and you feel really good about being a badass)
Hot Sauce (especially Sriracha because obviously)
Pretend it’s the best oatmeal you’ve ever had. Then go crazy.
All of the fruits!
All of the berries!
Milk (Soy, Almond, etc.)
Dried Fruit (maybe if you’re making the long-cooking congee, chop some dried fruit up and add it at the beginning of the process! I FEEL LIKE THIS CAN ONLY RESULT IN DELICIOUS)