Congee is my new favorite breakfast food.
Also called jook, congee is rice porridge, a classic Chinese comfort food. It is also popular in Vietnam (called
The traditional way to make congee is simply to simmer rice in a large amount of liquid for a long time. This causes the rice to break down into a thick porridge. It’s a common breakfast or a curative for someone who’s under the weather, but it also makes a great lunch, dinner, or late-night snack.
Your Congee, Your Way
Congee is one of those dishes that is infinitely variable, so you can make it to your own liking. Some people like it super thick, while others prefer a more soupy adaptation. Some like it vegetarian, while others use chicken broth for the cooking liquid and load it up with bits of cooked meat or fish. And you can use any type of rice you like or have on hand—basmati, jasmine, long-grain, short-grain, white, or brown.
Normally a dish that takes hours to cook, with an Instant Pot, you can be eating in 45 minutes. Put your rice, liquid, and seasonings like salt and turmeric into the pot, set it, and forget it. (If you don’t have an Instant Pot, check out this tricky 20-Minute Congee. Or make this in a regular stockpot on the stove top. You’ll just need to simmer it for 90 minutes or so.)
Healthy Comfort Food? Bring It!
I think of congee as not just comfort food, but healthy comfort food. It’s the kind of thing I crave when it is cold or rainy
Congee is delicious, filling, and, depending on what you put in it, can pack a whole lot of nutrition. I make my congee with brown rice instead of white, which gives it more fiber and minerals, and a slightly nutty flavor that I love. I add anti-inflammatory turmeric because it is a nutritional powerhouse. And I like to use homemade chicken broth for the liquid. All of that goes right into the Instant Pot to cook.
Topping your congee is where you can get really creative. I’ve offered a list of topping ideas, but the possibilities are quite literally endless. My favorite congee toppers are poached eggs,
Made with hearty brown rice and healing turmeric, this satisfying rice porridge is full of flavor and nutrition. By using the Instant Pot, this normally long-cooking dish can be on the table in well under an hour. It’s also a great make-ahead dish that can be kept in the fridge and reheated on demand in the microwave.
1 cup brown rice (see note*)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional, see note**)
5 to 6 cups chicken broth (see note***)
Shredded chicken or other cooked meat or fish
Cooked vegetables (chard, kale, broccoli, asparagus, green beans)
Pickled vegetables (pickled mustard greens or Korean kimchi)
Soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, chile paste, and other condiments
Easy Fried Shallots in the Microwave
Dry-roasted and salted peanuts
- In the Instant Pot, combine the rice, salt, and tumeric, if using. Add the broth.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot and set the valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.
- When the cooking time is up, quick release the pressure and serve hot with desired toppings.
*Congee is usually made with a delicate white rice like basmati or jasmine, but I really like the flavor of brown rice. You can substitute white rice for all or some of the brown rice. If you use all white rice, you can reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes.
**I have tried this with both ground turmeric and minced fresh turmeric and I was surprised to discover that I like the powdered version better. It delivers a lot more flavor.
***Feel free to substitute vegetable broth or water to make this congee vegetarian.
****You can make a big batch of congee and keep it in the fridge for up to a week. It’s great to have on hand to heat up for quick meals. The rice will continue to absorb the liquid, so you’ll want to add more before heating. I usually add about ¼ cup of water to a bowl of cold congee and then pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes.