congee recipe- comfort food

[Recipe & Story] Congee: Ultimate comfort food

This is comfort food to me 🙂 It’s perfect for breakfast, dinner, lunch, snack, whenever.. My dad would say it’s for sick people but let’s ignore that comment because it’s not good energy for my soul 😛 hahaha I just love congee, especially when it’s made well. When it’s cooked well, it’s silky and smooth, the consistency is runny yet thick-ish. Just the way it’s made in Hong Kong! (They have the best beef porridge/congee ever!)

Congee is often cooked plain and served with a wide variety of side dishes such as roasted peanuts, fried anchovies aka ikan bilis, garlic oil, pumpkin stir fry (my grandma, mama’s favourite), vegetable stir fry, soy sauce pork mince, julienned ginger, ginger pan fried fish…


HK style

My cousins also love this dish ALOT. When my grandma, mama asks us what we want for lunch. We scream “Porridge!!!” We would compliment her for her cooking and she would think we are crazy because congee/porridge is basically rice and water cooked for hours haha but, believe it or not, there’s a skill to it and I’m gonna share those tips with you…


How a typical porridge meal would look: Stir fry pumpkin, soy sauce ginger fish, garlic oil

Plain porridge

Makes for 4-5 people


  • 1.5-2 cups rice (not brown rice)
  • 6 cups water + extra
  • 3 tsps sesame oil


  1. Season the rice with sesame oil and a bit of salt. Allow the rice to rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the water into the pot of rice. Cook on a high heat until it is boiling.
  3. Lower the heat and allow the rice and water mixture to simmer until the rice breaks down. Stir every 10 minutes.
  4. Add more water if the mixture gets too thick. It should be runny but to the point where the congee will slip off the spoon immediately.
  5. Serve hot with the condiments on the side. Enjoy!

Tip 1: Freeze the rice for at least 45 minutes (preferably for a few hours) before cooking. This helps to “break down” the rice later on. Guaranteed much silkier congee!! I don’t know why, it just does. My grandma taught me that trick and it works everytime.

Tip 2: Be patient!! It goes a long way for this dish. Cook it on medium-low heat the whole time and allow the rice to break down when it wants to. Higher heat really does not cook the congee any faster. It will more likely burn the dish more than anything else.


Besides congee being a comfort food, it holds a special memory too.

Dec-Jan 2013, I went back to Malaysia for an internship and during that period my grandpa, kong kong’s health was deteriorating very quickly. His hands and feet were inflammed, he was lacking the energy to even bother to walk for more than 20 metres because it was simply just too much effort and too tiring. He was never really a big eater but he lost even more appetite during that time of his life. He would eat 3 bites of a form of protein max because it was simply tiring.. It was heartbreaking. I was trying to figure out a way for him to obtain lots of nutrients without actually eating it and of course, congee! It’s familiar, it’s soup-y, it’s nutritious, it’s comforting…

This time, there was not going be any condiments. Just a lot of bones in the broth for the congee. I quickly called my aunt, Aunty Jean to buy bones of 2 chickens for me. I made another phone call to another aunt, Da Gu Gu to finalise the method of cooking this chicken congee again (she actually inspired me to cook this dish for kong kong). I was on a mission! I wish my sister had been able to be there to be part of this mission but she was back in Australia for education reasons. But it’s the thought that counts 🙂

Chicken broth porridge


  • 1.5-2 cups rice (not brown rice)
  • 6 cups water + extra
  • 3 tsps sesame oil
  • Bones of 2 free range or organic chicken
  • 6 cups water + extra
  • Himalayan pink salt


  1. Clean the bones under running water.
  2. Boil the bones in a pot of water for 2 hours, on low heat. Until it becomes a flavourful broth.
  3. Season with salt.
  4. Strain out the bones and remove any impurities from the broth.
  5. Add the rice into the clear broth.
  6. Continue cooking on low heat until the rice breaks down into silky congee.
  7. Enjoy!


Generation Kitchen


My kong kong & I. I will always miss you. Love always, Your granddaughters 葉 凯 伦 and 葉 凯 旋 🙂 My grandpa gave me the thumbs up for my chicken congee. Made from scratch, no pre made stock – really clean dish that meets his dietary requirements. He enjoyed it so much he asked for seconds! it’s such a privilege to cook for him heart emoticon


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