Congee is one of my all-time favourite comfort foods – my mom always refers to it as the Chinese version of chicken noodle soup. Chinese people traditionally have it for breakfast, but I like it any time of day and often make a big batch in the morning before I head out to work so that I can come home to a big warm bowl of it for dinner. It’s also an incredibly cost-effective meal to make – all you need is 8 parts water to 1 part rice to get a perfect congee. I like to use chicken thighs because they get delightfully stringy and swirl nicely into the rice after a day of slow cooking, but pork tenderloin and white fish like tilapia are also great substitutes.
In my opinion, the best part of congee is hands down the toppings. They have the ability to transform your congee from a simple breakfast to a flavour-packed lunch or dinner. I especially love sprinkling Chinese dried spicy pork on top because it melts right in and adds a deep umami flavour, and topping it off with fresh cilantro and green onions give it a satisfying fresh crunch. My boyfriend likes his with a little heat, so he always reaches for the Sriracha and Sambal Oelek. In essence: you can’t go wrong, so pile on your favourite herbs or flavours and enjoy!
For the congee:
- 8 cups water
- 3 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 4 (1 inch-thick each) chunks fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- Roasted peanuts
- Minced fresh ginger
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Finely chopped scallions
- Spicy dried pork
- A splash of sesame oil and soya sauce
- Chinese century eggs, quartered
- Soft boiled eggs, halved
- Everything but the bagel seasoning
- Sambal oelek
- Place all the ingredients for the congee in a large slow cooker. Cover and cook until very creamy and the rice is completely broken down, 8 to 10 hours on the LOW setting or 5 hours on the HIGH setting.
- Transfer the chicken and ginger to a plate. Stir the congee with a wooden spoon, making sure to scrape against the bottom and sides of the slow cooker to incorporate congee that’s sticking there.
- Shred the chicken, then stir the meat back into the slow cooker, discarding the bones, skin, cartilage, and ginger.
- OPTIONAL: Add in Chinese century eggs and let simmer for an additional 15 minutes before eating