7 simple and delicious basic congee recipes, what to eat congee with and slow cooker congee recipe

Basic congee Congee is just rice cooked in an excess of water in its purest form, it can be quite thick and hearty or more thin which can be more suited if you're looking to lose weight by eating more congee. You can cook it in either water or stock, I typically just use water but congee made with real chicken stock is amazing. You'll need:
  • 1 cup raw long-grain white rice
  • A load of stock or water
  • Optional salt, I don't use a spoon to judge just shake my salt thingy a good few times, you can also salt at the end doesn't matter too much
I was taught by my mother to rinse the rice first, basically in the sink you fill a pot with water + add the cup of rice, then sort of knead it and the water will go cloudy, my mum preached that 1 rinse is good but I like keeping doing it until the water barely clouds at all, I don't know why - its satisfying but time consuming. If you're wanting to diet, you can feel free to eat quite a lot of plain congee, I make it quite thin, fill up a big bowl and have salt/soy sauce - if you think about the calories in a cup of rice, spreading that over your whole day isn't so bad.
Add the rice, salt and stock or water to a pot or large saucepan, put this on the hob on a high heat until it boils, then reduce to a simmer, stir it every so often to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom. Simmer it for at least an hour so that the congee thickens - the water will be a lot thicker and the rice will be broken down. This is then often served with sliced spring onion, and some crunchy stuff (you tiao), but you can eat it with so many things. 

Pi dan shou rou zhou or preserved egg pork congee For this delicious variation you'll need:
This is made pretty similarly to the plain congee except before cooking, slice up the lean pork into strips and marinate it in some salt (or soy sauce), chuck this into the congee about 30 mins into the simmering time. When you're going to be eating soon, crack open the century eggs (as many as you want, bearing in mind they're expensive!), and either chop into pieces and put in the congee, or you can serve them on the side in eighths in a bowl with a little soy sauce. Throw the ginger in and put the chopped spring onion on top of the zhou, and chop up the you tiao and put that on top too if you'd like. 

Gorgeous rich chicken congee I can't get enough of this variant but it is so much hassle IMO. I boil a whole chicken in a pot with a ton of water, then take the glorious oily chicken stock that is created after an hour or so and use this for the base of my congee, 8 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of white rice and it is just this divine tasting, rich and filling version of congee. With salt added I literally eat this on its own. It is a nice take on chicken soup for sick people, easy to swallow if you have a painful throat, and its lovely and warming. It isn't the most healthy but I just shake salt onto it until it is delicious. 

Scallop congee When I was younger I didn't think I was a big fan of this adaptation to the usual congee, but since leaving home a few times I have really had a craving for some of this but I haven't been able to find dried scallops thus far at the chinese supermarket! Anyhow, you'll need:
  • Dried scallops (maybe 20 small ones, less if you have big kahunas)
  • 1 cup rice
  • Spring onions
Rinse and then soak the dried scallops in water for around 40 mins. Rinse the rice, you know the drill by now. Cook the rice in a large pot with around 9 cups of water + the water the dried scallops were in. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks, add the scallops and reduce to a low simmer, cover with half the lid if you can and make sure it doesn't boil over. Keep simmering until the rice breaks down and add some more water when it is getting too thick. Garnish with chopped spring onions and season with salt and white pepper.

Chicken and shiitake mushroom congee This one is gorgeous, you'll need a few more ingredients:
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2-5 Shiitake mushrooms, your call
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5" ginger
  • Chicken thighs on or off the bone, maybe 5 drumsticks but up to you
  • Salt, white pepper, maybe a bit of five spice powder
  • Spring onions
  • A little bit of coriander (cilantro)
  • 50g peanuts
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Wash the rice and start cooking on high in a pot with around 10 cups of water, cook until boiling, while you're waiting for that, dice the garlic, peel and chop up the ginger, slice the mushrooms into strips, then just throw them into the pot as well as you're done with each bit. Add the chicken after the veggies are in, the water shouldn't be boiled yet unless you're a really slow chopper.

Once the water has boiled, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover partially and let it bubble away merrily for an hour or so, stir it often, I leave it somewhat thin so I can eat like 5 big bowls. Chop up a few spring onions tear up a bit of coriander and once it is a nice thick consistency, divide into bowls and put a few pinches of the spring onions, coriander and peanuts on top, then add salt, white pepper, soy sauce to taste, and a bit of sesame oil.

Seafood congee This one just irritates me as I like minimal prep with my food and this has a couple of minutes of effort, oh well it is delicious anyway and I'm sure someone will want to try it.
  • 1 cup rice (do you see a theme here?)
  • 10-15 scallops
  • 1-2 inches of ginger, chopped
  • 100g shrimp or prawn or whatever you like (substitute other fishy things if you want)
  • Chopped white fish of your choice (or whatever, I like cod/plaice sort of thing)  
  • 2 cups cooking wine
  • Salt
Wash rice, put in pot with 10 cups or so of water on high as per usual, add 1/3 of the ginger. Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl except the salt. Once the water has boiled turn the heat down and let it simmer for around an hour or until the rice has broken down, then turn the heat to the lowest possible simmer and add the mixed other ingredients. You can use dried scallops and follow some aspects of the scallop congee recipe, I'm sure you've got that. 

Congee with pumpkin or sweet potato Pick something orange, chop it up and add it to your plain congee, it sweetens it a little and makes it even more delicious, nice if you've got more of a sweet tooth, you can add a sweetener but I like it sitting on the line between savoury and sweet.

Slow cooker congee

Congee in a slow cooker is much the same although it is a little harder to control the consistency until you've made it a time or two and know exactly how long it wants to be perfect for you.

It needs:
  • 1 cup of rice, washed/rinsed well
  • 10 cups of water, or chicken broth (or veggie works too)
  • Or 10 cups of water and 3-4 stock cubes, which isn't as delicious as stuff fresh from the chicken but hey it works. 
  • Or 5 cups water, 5 cups broth which is a little lighter and a little less calorific, the full broth version is gorgeous and rich
You can either stir some sesame oil in (around 1 teaspoon) with your rice until it is coated, or just combine rice and water type thing in the slow cooker and take the nice lazy route. I have never put oil in and haven't had particularly sticky problems. After you have (or haven't) stirred the oil in, combine the rice/water stuff and about a teaspoon of salt in the slow cooker bowl (you may not need salt if using stock cubes), put the lid of the slow cooker on and cook on low for around 8 hours, the mixture should be creamy and the rice should be broken down.

If you want to make any of the variations involving chicken you can put it in from the start to let the flavour really diffuse into the congee, the recipes remain similar just the cooking time is around 8-10 hours rather than 1-2 hours and you can blame the slow cooker if there is an issue. For the seafood one, I would probably add the seafood ingredients to the congee at around the 7 hour 40 minute mark, then turn the slow cooker up to high for the last 20 minutes (or until the seafood is cooked, please don't eat it raw) 

What to eat your congee with 

There are so many delicious things you can eat with congee, many of them are somewhat healthy and they help to keep the congee nutritious anyway! It is so hard to screw up unless you burn it to a crisp - if it is too clumpy/dry just add more water and cook more. 

Chinese spicy cucumber salad This is one of my favourites, it is spicy and salty and low calorie and just heavenly. Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cucumbers, I usually just make 2 batches as I eat too many of the slices as snacks as well
  • Soy sauce
  • Chinese vinegar/rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (not too crucial what type)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Chilli oil, I use Lao Gan Ma (US link)
  • 1 clove garlic optional
Wash the cucumber, then using a peeler or a knife, peel long strings down the cucumber so that it looks something like the above picture, then thinly slice the cucumber, I sometimes cut it in half first, not quite all the way down then cut slices but its up to you. I try to keep each slice only a few mm thick so they absorb more of the flavour. If you want, bash the cucumber up a bit with a rolling pin, I don't know why but its tastier this way.

Chuck the sliced cucumber into a bowl or a tupperware box for me, then pour on soy sauce fairly liberally, for me this is around 5 tbsp or more, but I also basically drink soy sauce. Add 1 tbsp of Lao Gan Ma, heaped for me. Chop up the garlic fairly finely and add to the mix, put in the sugar and a few tablespoons of vinegar, and anything that you haven't put in yet for some reason. Mix this well so that the sauce covers every surface of cucumber.

Eat, or refrigerate I like to leave it in the fridge overnight to let the flavours sink in, but it can be eaten immediately. You can also saute some bok choy or chinese leaf in soy sauce and maybe some chilli sauce and eat with that.

Roasted peanuts or toasted pine nuts, zha cai These can be great as well in congee although I like stronger flavoured things, I LOVE zha cai which I can't seem to find on UK amazon but any Chinese supermarket will have it, it is like a preserved salty (slightly spicy sometimes?) vegetable and its amazing eaten with congee.

Salted or preserved duck eggs Any type of congee can be eaten with salted or preserved duck eggs, if you buy salted duck eggs from the chinese supermarket please be aware you actually have to cook them, through my childhood I was used to being presented with the duck eggs to peel and so I thought the supermarket sold them cooked, then I was really sad when I bought 6 salted eggs for £4 and then cracked one straight onto the counter, raw. The salted eggs will often be taken straight out of the shell with a spoon, and placed into the congee, or they can be chopped/served on a plate for aesthetics  You can get salted or preserved duck eggs from Amazon.

Boiled eggs and soy sauce I like to steam some eggs in advance then chop them up and mix with soy sauce/chilli sauce and eat that with my congee, this is pretty quick and gets some protein in.

I'll add some more things you can eat with congee if I can remember them, or comment some suggestions below! I'll soon be posting some recipes on youtube, whenever I can clean up the kitchen enough anyway! There are so many other congee recipes, shrimp, crab, beef, pork it all works and you can almost just cook stuff in a pot with rice and it'll work out. If you found this useful enough to read all the way to the bottom, please consider disabling adblock just on this site - I have no popup ads just sidebar ads (well I'm not even adsense approved yet), but just having an ad showing on the page helps to support my food devouring lifestyle. Last month I had 30,000 visitors and only 1500 people saw the one ad that I had. 


  1. Hi Oliva,
    I saw your post on Reddit, thanks for posting this!
    Can I ask how many servings these will make? Also, I was taught to make the rice first, leave it overnight, then make congee the next day. Have you heard of that?

  2. No problem, I'm just happy to spread the congee love. The servings vary depending on how thick you make it, and what you're eating it for, with a thicker consistency (not much water visible on its own just gloopy rice that will form a peak when you spoon it into a bowl), you should get 4-6 bowls of a good size like this picture http://hungry-girl.s3.amazonaws.com/system/newsletter_subsection/image/873/retina_Healthy-Recipes-with-Large-Portion-Sizes-Mexican-Taco-Soup.jpg if not more. I know it is soup rather than congee.

    Thin I have around 4 massive bowls of it that are quite watery, but I can make some sometime and then post the pic of finished product + servings of it.

    I've never heard of that method actually, it would probably allow the rice to break down more!

  3. good and useful article. thank u. i am sharing this article in my sit

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