Congee is a comfort food that many Asians grew up eating. It’s a rice porridge that is typically served for breakfast or lunch if you accompany it with other heartier foods such as noodles. You’ll get full pretty fast if you’re eating congee but you’ll get hungry pretty soon too because it’s liquidy. It’s also a great meal to eat when you’re feeling sick because it’s warm and nourishing. Congee is like North American’s chicken soup.
I’m sure a lot of Chinese children grew up eating this Memorable Dish whether they grew up in Asia, North America or any other part of the world. If they are able to buy century eggs, their moms or grandmothers would’ve made them this congee when they were children.
My mother uses a couple of Chinese ingredients that may not be common to some. So if you can’t find them or don’t want to use them, it’s OK. One ingredient is conpoy (dried scallop) because it gives the congee a better taste. You won’t find good quality conpoy at your Chinese grocery store. We usually buy it from a Chinese dried seafood shop (海味店). She also mixes dried bean curd sheet (腐竹) with the rice before boiling it.
At first, my boys didn’t seem to like congee very much. Every time we had it at my mom’s house, they would only eat a few spoonfuls. They ate more of the side dishes of noodles and Chinese cruller. For them, congee equates Chinese cruller; congee is blasphemous without it. As time goes by, they started getting second bowls of congee! I wonder if it’s because of the crunchy Chinese cruller they love dipping the congee into or their taste suddenly evolved into a higher level of adult sophistication.
I’m sure this Memorable Dish brings back childhood memories for a lot of Chinese families. I remember my grandmother making it for us when we were kids and now my mother makes it for us and my kids. When my kids grow up I will teach them how to make this dish for their family with the hopes that they will continue the tradition of congee cooking for their loved ones.
- 1 pound Lean Pork, cut into 2 big pieces
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 Century Egg (cut in half)
- 1 cup Rice
- 2 slices of Ginger
- 16 cups Water
- 3 pieces of Conpoy (Dried Scallop) (optional)
- 1/2 cup Dried Bean Curd Sheet, crushed up (optional)
- 1 sliced Green Onion for garnish
- White Pepper & Salt or Soy Sauce to taste
- The night before, coat pork pieces with salt and marinate in the fridge.
- If using conpoy, soak them in water to reconstitute it.
- On the day of making the congee, rinse rice until the water is almost clear.
- In a large bowl, mix 1/2 century egg, rice and dried bean curd sheet (if using) together. Set aside.
- After conpoy has been softened, break pieces up with a fork or by hand.
- In a large pot, put 12 cups of water, pork pieces, ginger slices, and conpoy (if using). Bring everything to a boil.
- Once it’s boiled, skim off scum and boil for another 15 minutes.
- Put rice mixture into the boiling liquid and once it’s boiled, turn down to medium to medium high heat.
- The liquid should be in a rolling boil state.
- Keep the pot lid slightly open so the congee won’t boil over,
- Cook congee for 15 minutes and add the additional 4 cups of water.
- Cook congee for approximately 45 minutes more.
- Check and stir the pot periodically to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom as it thickens.
- Once you boil it to the consistency of your liking, the rice should be broken down by now. Turn off heat.
- Take the big pork pieces out of the pot and shred it with a fork or by hand.
- Cut the other half of the century egg into small pieces.
- Put the shredded pork and century egg back into the pot of congee and mix.
- Serve in bowls and garnish with green onions, white pepper and salt or soy sauce to taste.
If you like thicker congee, cook it longer. If you like it thinner, add a bit more water. Make sure you bring it back to a boil if using cold water.