Chicken Congee

Congee, known as Chinese rice porridge comfort food, is a dish typically eaten at breakfast, but holds up anytime of the day. It’s made by slow simmering a small amount of rice in a large quantity of water or broth, creating a thick, starchy batch of comforting goodness. Growing up, I ate a variety of porridge, most often lugaw, a Filipino version made with garlic, ginger, rice, chicken, and topped with fish sauce, scallions, chicharron, and calamansi juice.

When making congee you can slow simmer the rice with just water, but if you’re aiming for richness in flavor, I suggest boiling the chicken for 40 mins with scallions, garlic and ginger to get a well-seasoned broth (sharing the specifics below). Conversely, you can just use bone broth, but I prefer the scratch-made way. The cherry-on-top are the add-ons: slivered scallions, fresh ginger, fish sauce, chili oil, (and if i’m not feeling lazy) fried shallots and jammy eggs for the hubs. Congee without all the fixin’s is great, but topped with all the extras ALWAYS makes it taste so much better.

Food Science on Rice: Broken rice–fragments of rice grains that occur during processing–is typically used to make congee, but I like to use sushi rice. It's a short grain varietal of rice and higher in starch. You want to aim for short-grain vs long-grain rice, as short grain rice absorbs more water, causing a gelation effect compared to long-grain rice, which doesn’t absorb as much water when soaked or cooked. Think of when you try cooking sushi, short or medium-grain rice and you'll notice it’s stickier vs when cooking jasmine, basmati or long-grain rice. This is because of the starches and they’re levels of permeability to water–more absorbent. Starchier and more amylopectin for short-grain rice and less absorbent for long grain rice (more amylose).

What am I getting at here? Basically, use sushi rice when making congee and you’ll be good to go.

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes Servings: 3-4

You Need:

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 chicken breast, bone-in + skin on
  • 4 pieces scallions, cut into thirds
  • 1- 3-inch piece ginger, cut into thick coins
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup sushi rice, lightly rinsed
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt

Optional Toppings

  • Scallions, thinly sliced
  • Chili oil
  • Ginger, freshly grated
  • Fish sauce
  • Fried Shallots
  • Jammy Eggs

Do It

  1. In a pot, add chicken, water, scallions, ginger, garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 40 mins or until chicken begins to shred.
  2. Remove and discard scallions, ginger and garlic. Remove chicken and set aside.
  3. Add rice and salt and bring to a boil. Once contents come to a boil, scrape the bottom, ensuring rice has not stuck to the pan. Lower heat to a simmer and cover pan.
  4. Cook for 1 hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes, making sure rice does not stick to the pan.
  5. While cooking, shred chicken breast with a fork. This will be added to the congee at the end. If you’re making fried shallots and.or jammy eggs, this would be a great time to start.
  6. Once the congee has thickened (similar to oatmeal), turn off heat and stir in shredded chicken.
  7. Ladle congee into bowls and add desired toppings. I prefer topping with scallions, fresh ginger, fish sauce, and chili oil.

Fried Shallots

  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

Do It

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add shallots and cook until golden brown.
  3. Remove shallots from saucepan and drain on a paper towel.

Jammy Eggs

  • 2 eggs
  • ice bath, bowl filled with ice and cold water

Do It

  1. Fill a saucepan with hot water and bring to a boil.
  2. Using tongs, slowly drop eggs into saucepan.
  3. Cover and set a timer for 8 minutes
  4. After 8 minutes, place eggs in ice bath and set a timer for 4 mins.
  5. Peel eggs and set aside. Best if you wait to cut in half when ready to eat, as these can get messy.