Congee (aka jook) is a Chinese dish that involves boiling rice until it comes to a porridge consistency. There are many variations to this traditional dish – from the thickness to the garnishes and accompaniments that go with it. It’s usually served for breakfast or lunch (look for it in hotel buffets that cater for South-East Asian audiences) and for me, it’s like an Asian version of chicken soup.
Traditionally, the base of a congee starts with white rice and lots of water. As the rice absorbs the water, it starts to break down and combines with the water to become congee. When I make congee, I like to give the base a boost by using a stock. I also add ginger for additional flavour.
Congee is normally a dish that takes over an hour on the stove and lots of stirring. In this recipe, we use the Thermomix to speed up the process. The Thermomix does the stirring for us and the blades help to break down the rice which reduces the cooking time. This version includes chicken, and oyster and shiitake mushrooms to make a filling meal.
Chicken and Mushroom Congee
- 500 mL warm water
- 12 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 cup rice approx. 200g
- 700 g cold water
- 2 tbsp Thermomix vegetable stock concentrate
- 5 cm piece of ginger peeled and cut into 1cm pieces
- 150 g oyster mushrooms cut into 1 cm slices
- 600 g chicken breast thinly sliced
- 3 spring onions thinly sliced
- Sesame oil
- White pepper
- Soak shitake mushrooms in a bowl with the warm water for 15 minutes
- Rinse rice (1 cup) under cold water and then put into the Thermomix bowl
- Put cold water (700g) and stock concentrate (2tbsp) into the Thermomix
- Cook with the measuring cup (MC) on for 12 minutes | Varoma | Reverse/Speed soft
- Remove the shitake mushrooms from water and gently squeeze the excess liquid back into the bowl; set water aside
- Slice shiitake mushrooms into approximately 1 cm slices
- After the Thermomix stops, add chicken, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and 450g of the mushroom water (top up with tap water if required)
- Cook with the MC on for another 20 minutes | 100C | Reverse| Speed soft; use the spatula to help the ingredients mix together
- Finish by cooking with the MC on for 3 minutes | Varoma | Reverse | Speed 1
- To serve, garnish with spring onions, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with white pepper
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In a way, congee is all about the toppings. Yes, there are different variations for what can go in the congee itself. However, the toppings are just as important. My childhood memories of congee include pork floss, pickled lettuce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and yow tew (picture a well-cooked, crunchy savoury donut stick) – though not usually altogether. Other toppings include roasted peanuts, fermented bean curd, spring onions, seaweed, bamboo, and century eggs. The idea is that the accompaniments add flavour, crunch and chew to a typically bland base.
[Last updated: January 5, 2014]