I love rice porridge or congee. The modularity of the porridge makes it such a simple way to enjoy a warm bowl of comfort during the colder months, when I’m not feeling well, hungover, or just plain feel like I need a bit of warm comfort.
Plain congee, pak jook(Cantonese/Hakka), or báizhōu(Mandarin) is a porridge made out of white rice. With thousands of years of history, it is liberally eaten all over China and the Chinese diaspora. Highly customizable, the viscosity and textural quality vary considerably depending on country, region, and family. Whether thick or watery, this all boils down to regional and personal preference.
This version I’m sharing with you today is a marrying of multi-regional, traditional condiments that are of Southern-Chinese origin. The combination is loosely inspired by my Hakka grandmother, Teochew beauty mentor, and eating with my Cantonese British-Chinese friends in London. It’s the kind of porridge that Hakka, Fujian, and Teochew people would have at home. From China to Singapore, Taiwan to Malaysia, this style of white porridge is a breakfast staple, though it is also eaten at all times of the day.
THE BEST WAY TO COOK WHITE CONGEE
There are 6-ways to cook plain congee; on the stove top, in a microwave oven, in an automatic rice cooker, in a crock pot, a regular pressure cooker, or an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot.
I think the method that yields the fluffiest, most transformational experience is the overnight crockpot method. Saying that, I used to make pak jook on the stove top and stirred the congee till it was perfect, but who has time for that now?
Ever since owning the Instant Pot, perfect congee has become much easier and faster to make. In a slow cooker, you would need between 8-11 hours overnight on the low heat setting to get the rice grains to release the amylopectin, become soft, and still maintain some remnants of bits of grains. It’s a great way, but it does no good if you were hungry an hour ago. It just takes too long!
With the Instant Pot, you literally just wash the rice, add water, and press a button. There is no need to babysit or stand over the stove top to stir from fear you’ll burn the porridge. Perfect congee will be ready in ONE HOUR!
That’s right, ONE HOUR!
The ultimate plain congee awaits you in terms of getting that silky smooth texture with interesting tactile bits that are noticeably there, yet remain soft as clouds.
As for the side dishes or condiments, there are many varieties out there to dress your soupy carrier starch. You can treat the congee like wet rice, and just eat it with any kind of cooked Chinese dishes.
For today’s post, I’ll focus on the easy way to enjoy white congee. By tapping into a huge array of preserved, ready-made bottled, or canned condiments that are commonly eaten by Chinese people. If you want a quick and tasty congee meal, but are too busy to cook up a storm, this list at the bottom is for you. (Download the congee condiment list here – coming soon).
- Fried gluten with peanuts
- Stewed peanuts
- Pickled cucumber
- Pickled bamboo shoots
- Zha cai
- Fermented beancurd (white)
- Fermented beancurd (spicy)
- Yutiao or Chinese cruellers
- Gan Lan Cai or Preserved Olive Vegetables
- Fried crispy shallots
- Fried crispy garlic
- Salted black beans with anchovies
- Salted dace
- Salted duck eggs
- Century eggs
CONDIMENTS (NON-HALAL, NON-KOSHER)
- Ma Ling Pork Luncheon Meat or Spam
- Pork mince with bean paste
- Narcissus stewed pork chops
- Narcissus stewed pork belly
- Pork belly (green can)
FRESH CONDIMENTS (VEGAN)
- Green onions
Instant Pot White Rice Congee
- 1 cup Jasmine rice
- 7 cups filtered water
- Put one cup of Jasmine rice into the IP and wash the grains with cool water. This helps clean the rice debris. Drain the water and repeat process another 2 times.
- At the final rinse, drain all the water and add 7 cups of filtered water to the Instant Pot insert.
- Close the lid, and make sure the valve is set on "seal."
- Press the "pressure cook" button, and set it to 30 minutes. Then leave it on "Natural Release" for 15-20 minutes.
- When the valve has dropped, open the lid, and stir congee before serving.