How to Make Congee (Chinese Rice Porridge)

Basic Congee Porridge

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  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: 3-4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
119 Calories
1g Fat
24g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3-4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 119
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 598mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Protein 2g
Calcium 83mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Congee (粥 or 稀飯) is a classic Chinese breakfast dish, though it is also a staple in many other countries including Burma, Indonesia, Japan, and even parts of Europe. Congee is essentially a rice porridge made by boiling rice in a great deal of water until it breaks down into a puddinglike consistency. It can be made sweet or savory.

Although eaten by all family members, it is most often served to children and people who are ill or convalescing as it is nutritious and easy to digest. It's also a great way to stretch rice when food is scarce. Congee is often served with Chinese crullers (youtiao, 油條), which are fried dough, that you dip into the congee. Add ginger and garlic for extra flavor, and toppings like chicken or mushrooms.

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Click Play to See This Chinese Rice Porridge (Congee) Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup long-grain rice
  • 9 cups water (or substitute chicken, vegetable, or beef stock)
  • Method 1:1 teaspoon salt
  • Method 2: 1 teaspoon sunflower oil (or peanut, vegetable, or olive oil)
  • Optional: minced ginger, minced garlic, lotus root, ginkgo nuts, shredded chicken, crumbled pork, bok choy, soft-boiled egg, crushed peanuts, etc.

Steps to Make It

There are three methods for cooking congee, each of which results in a slightly different texture. If at any time you feel your congee is too thick, you can add a little boiling water to the mixture.

Method 1

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Congee rice pudding.
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  2. In a large pot, bring the rice and water to a boil.

    Add water to make Congee rice.
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  3. When the rice is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Place the lid on the pot, tilting it to allow some of the steam to escape (the same as you would do when cooking white rice).

    Congee rice simmering.
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  4. Cook on medium-low to low heat, stirring occasionally,​ until the rice has the thick, creamy texture of porridge. This can take about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

    Congee rice cooked.
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  5. Add the salt, taste, and add any seasonings or toppings as desired.

    Basic congee rice.
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Method 2

  1. Rinse and wash the rice and soak the rice in the water for 30 minutes; then drain the water.

    Rinse rice with water
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  2. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the rice and mix evenly. Adding oil can help the rice cook quicker and also make the congee smoother and softer in texture.

    Add oil
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  3. Boil the water and add the rice.

    Boil water
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  4. Turn the heat down to medium and keep stirring the rice for 5 minutes.

    Turn heat down
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  5. Turn the heat to low, put on the lid, and simmer for 45 minutes. You can tilt the lid to allow the steam to escape. Season to taste and add your choice of toppings.

Method 3

  1. Rinse and wash the rice and soak the rice in water for 30 minutes; then drain the water.

    Rinse rice
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  2. Put rice into a freezer bag and freeze for 2 to 3 hours. This can result in a smoother textured congee.

    Put rice into freezer bag
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  3. Boil 1 quart of water in a large pot and then add the frozen rice into the boiling water.

    Boil water in pot
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  4. Bring it to a boil again, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes.

    Cook rice
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  5. Turn off the heat and cover with the lid; let sit for 15 minutes before seasoning and adding your choice of toppings.

Recipe Variations

There are no rules about what you can add to congee. Typically, people add meat, fish, vegetables, and herbs.

  • For protein, add shredded cooked chicken, cooked ground pork, cooked Chinese sausage, and/or a soft-boiled egg.
  • Cooked mushrooms, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and/or bamboo shoots make a nice addition.
  • You can also add classic Chinese ingredients like shredded lotus root and ginkgo nuts.
  • Add crunch with crushed peanuts or brightness with fresh cilantro or Thai basil.
  • Make a sweet version of congee with raisins, Chinese dates (jujubes), and a bit of rock sugar.