Congee is a homey, simple rice porridge, a classic comfort food in China. Cooking just a little bit of rice in a lot of water allows all the starch to escape and become creamy, much like a risotto. The slow cooker does all the work here, breaking down the rice with fragrant ginger and star anise and poaching the chicken until silky. A bit of chili oil is the vibrant kick this dish needs. You can also use Sriracha or a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Cilantro or baby spinach leaves can work in place of the watercress.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

This classic Chinese dish is just what you need in the A.M.

Hayley Sugg
April 05, 2017

Porridge is a beloved breakfast around the world. Whether it's oatmeal, grits, or even polenta, cultures from everywhere enjoy a steaming, comforting bowl of starchy goodness to start their day.

One breakfast dish that is just as delicious and soul-soothing as the aforementioned, but not as common as it deserves to be, is congee. A traditional breakfast that can be found throughout Asia, this rice-based porridge is the definition of homey cooking. The way this creamy dish is created is by cooking a small amount of rice in a large amount of water or broth, usually about one cup of rice to ten cups of water. The grains break down into a rich texture, quite similar to risotto. 

Photo: Iain Bagwell

View Recipe: Butternut and Ginger Congee

Mild enough in flavor for any time of the day, congee may be what's missing from your breakfast spread. Just as stick-to-your-ribs good as oatmeal, but a fun twist on a traditional breakfast bowl of grains, congee will fuel you throughout the day until lunchtime. It's extremely easy to make a large pot over the weekend and just dish it out each morning for a simple prepped meal. Even better, if you make it overnight like in our Slow Cooker Chicken Congee (pictured at top), you'll wake up to a house filled with the scents of ginger and anise, and a steaming dish ready to be eaten.

Flavor can be infused into congee while cooking, or some cultures prefer to keep the grains quite plain and really play up the toppings. If you want to go wild with customization, and make a DIY bar the whole family will love, dish out individual servings of the congee and lay out a spread of topping. Great options include green onions, soft- or hard-boiled eggs, fresh herbs, roasted peanuts, Thai chiles, shiitake mushrooms, pickled veggies, and more.