bowl of congee, Chinese rice porridge 

We're in the thick of winter now, and thankful for hygge culture. As we build fires and curl up under weighted blankets, let us not forget comfort food. Glorious comfort food.

A warm bowl of congee (Chinese rice pooridge) is the definition of hygge. It's a piping hot bowl of satisfaction that sticks to your ribs. And it's made even more comforting by the fact that only five ingredients are needed: Water, rice, salt, chicken and ginger. How you dress it up afterwards is up to you. 

I pop these ingredients in the slow-cooker before bed, and in the morning my home smells like warm ginger. We huddle around savory bowls of congee, ladled into our bowls.   

My recipe is family-style, and convenient for families who are home-schooling. The leftovers won't last, and it gets awkward toward the last bowl. But for a day or two, it's fuel to keep the home machine going. 

Place in a slow cooker:

  • 3 chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 knob of ginger, half-thumb sized, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup of long-grain rice (basmati and jasmine are the most fragrant)
  • 8 cups of water

Next steps:

  • Cook on high for 6-7 hours, or on low for 10-12
  • Remove lid and pull out chicken thighs.
  • Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the bones and skin
  • Return shreddded chicken meat into the slow cooker, and stir
  • Spoon out a bowl and dress it up with any combination of soy sauce, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, sesame oil, crushed peanuts, Sichuan peppercorn, etc.

In Chinese culture, congee was considered a peasant food. Culturally, that is correct. Many societies subsisted on some type of porridge or gruel. Empires were built upon it. Unlike gruel, congee has stood the test of time. 

The satisfaction feels almost primal. The simplicity makes it irresistable. As I write this, the family is asleep and my house is filling up with the smell of warm ginger. 

January 24, 2021 by Fayeruz Regan

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