The ultimate guide to eating this delectable condiment.
Across Asia, congee is revered for its comforting qualities. If you’re feeling ill or in need of sustenance in the morning or late at night, chances are you’ll be handed a bowl of this soothing rice porridge. The most basic form of congee is simply rice simmered with plenty of water over a number of hours, resulting in a silky, creamy texture that’s slightly soupier than the oat-based porridge of Western households.
But while you might be used to garnishing your breakfast porridge with brown sugar and sliced banana, in Asia congee is a decidedly savoury affair. You can beef up the flavour by simmering the rice in stock or adding leftover bones to the mix, and depending on which country you’re in, a whole raft of garnishes may be served up.
Take your pick of the following garnishes and flavourings.
- Salted duck eggs, coriander, ginger, white pepper, soy sauce, boneless fish or chicken, and fried bread sticks.
- Indonesian Bubur Ayam
- Shredded chicken meat, spring onion, fried shallot, fried dough sticks and kecap manis.
- Japanese Kayu
- Thickened with egg and topped with onion, salmon, fish roe, pickled ginger and salted plums.
- Kimchi and jeotgal (fermented seafood).
- Myanmar Hsan Byok
- Enriched with chicken or pork stock and simply garnished with sliced spring onion and fried onion.
Singaporean Congee or Teochew Porridge
- Served with a range of savoury dishes, like braised pork, steamed fish, kangkong (stir-fried water spinach), fishcakes, salted egg, omelette and vegetables.
- Mixed with raw egg and served with minced pork or beef, spring onions, fried dough, ginger, garlic and spicy pickles.
- Flavoured with chicken, garlic and ginger, pandan or mung beans, served with shredded cabbage, spring onions and a vinegar-based sauce.