I’m sure I’m not the only one who is currently staring at their pantry, trying to figure out if there’s a new way to use the staple ingredients on the shelves.

Pasta, beans, rice — they’re all great, but can get a little boring.

In my search for ways to use my pantry staples in interesting ways, I remembered a dish I had a few years ago that is quite similar to kitchari, but leans on different flavors in my cupboards. Congee is a Chinese rice porridge that is incredibly easy to make, and is the perfect blank canvas to dress up  using whatever other ingredients you may have on hand. What I love about this dish is how soft the rice becomes. It’s such a cozy dish as the rice grains break down into a thick porridge, and after this last week, I have a feeling all of us could use an extra dose of comfort.

All you really need to make this is rice and water or broth. I’ve read of a few different ratios of rice to liquid that people use, But I like the ratio of 1:8. (I used 1/2 cup rice to 4 cups of liquid.) If you want more liquid, go for a 1:9 ratio.

Traditionally, people would use jasmine rice, but I only ever have basmati rice on hand. You could use plain water or broth of your choice. I did 2 cups of water and 2 cups of veggie broth. From there, I used what I had on hand. I had some ginger and a little garlic hanging around in my produce basket along with some soy sauce and mushrooms that I used to add some extra flavor to my congee. To top it off, I added some of the leftover sautéed mushrooms I had along with a boiled egg and some green onions. Because my batch of congee makes enough for four servings, I topped off my bowl the next day with some sautéed greens and a fried egg with hot sauce. The day after, I added a few cubes of tofu and some pickled veggies. The options are truly endless.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m sure my version isn’t traditional, but it was fun to experiment with different flavors that I don’t always reach for on a regular basis.

For your cooking process, you’ve got a couple choices: instant pot/pressure cooker or stove top. I personally used the instant pot and love the hands off approach to cooking in it, but it will take about the same amount of time on the stove top, just with a little more hands on time. Use what you have and make it work!

Scroll on and enjoy this easy dish that feels like an extra dose of comfort.

Mushroom Congee

Serves 4

ingredients


  • 1/2 cup of rice, preferably jasmine but any rice will do
  • 4 cups of liquid - I used 2 cups water and 2 cups broth, but use what you have

optional add ins -

  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • 1 very small clove of garlic, grated
  • 2oz of mushrooms
  • a few teaspoons of soy sauce
  • salt to taste
  • for topping - boiled egg, sauteed mushrooms, green onions, hot sauce, etc.
instructions


for the instant pot/pressure cooker -

  1. Rinse the rice once and set aside. You don't need to rinse until the water runs clear, as some of the starch will help the congee thicken.
  2. Turn the instant pot on Saute.
  3. If you are using the optional add ins, add the oil to the pot and heat.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic, mushrooms, and soy sauce to the pot and saute until the mushrooms have taken on a slight color.
  5. Add the rice and the water/broth to the pot and stir to combine.
  6. Put the top on the instant pot and set to Manual and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn off the instant pot and let the pressure naturally release, it should take about 15 minutes.
  7. Double check that the pressure has released before removing the top.
  8. Stir the congee and taste to adjust salt as needed.
  9. Serve warm and top with desired toppings.

for the stovetop -

  1. Rinse the rice once and set aside. You don't need to rinse until the water runs clear, as some of the starch will help the congee thicken.
  2. If you are using the optional add ins, add the oil to a large stovetop pot and bring up to a medium heat.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, mushrooms, and soy sauce to the pot and saute until the mushrooms have taken on a slight color.
  4. Add the rice and the water/broth to the pot and stir to combine.
  5. Cover the pot and bring up to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce to low, still covered, and let the congee simmer for about an hour. Check and stir occasionally.
  6. After an hour, remove the congee from the heat and give it a stir. Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and let cool for 15 minutes. If your congee is still watery after cooled, you can put it back on the heat for another 10 - 15 minutes, stirring to thicken.
  7. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
  8. Serve warm and top with desired toppings.
1 comment
  1. 1
    Sarah | March 26, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    I grew up with congee in an Asian home. Typically, toppings range from 1000-year-old eggs or salted eggs to steamed fish or even shredded, dried pork. My favorite was one my mom made that always took overnight prep and was quite difficult to make. This version is definitely untraditional, but still sounds yummy.

    Reply
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