You read that right…I said a Quick and Easy Congee Recipe. You may be thinking you stumbled onto a food blog or recipe site, but we’re really here to talk about language learning. The point of this post is (1) to give the poor oatmeal suffers some variety and (2) connect a bit with the Chinese culture as we continue to learn the language.
Congee in Chinese is 米粥 (mǐ zhōu), and it’s a dish I knew nothing about until I was 30,000 feet in the air on my first trip to China. The airline served Congee for breakfast on our overnight flight from Newark to Beijing. Being a picky eater with a temperamental digestive system, Congee quickly became one of my favorite Chinese foods because it was almost always just rice and water.
If you’ve been to China and sampled the various Congee offerings, you know the flavor and texture varies dramatically. I’ve eaten Congee that seemed more like bits of rice in water all the way to more porridge-like Congee. The porridge-like Congee is the type I like to make for myself, and I usually add chicken to increase the protein content.
The great part about Congee is just how absurdly fast and easy it is to make if you have an Instant Pot. Just throw all of the ingredients into the Instant Pot, stir a bit, close the lid, plug it in, and hit the Porridge button.
Some Congee is literally nothing more than rice and water, but the following recipe is what I’ve landed on after a bit of experimentation. This recipe serves 3-4 people.
Put the following ingredients in the Instant Pot:
Note: I define 1 Dash as turning over and shaking the container once.
Stir well and put the Instant Pot on Porridge.
The only truly important part about Congee is getting the right broth/water to rice ratio. You can play with everything else. This Congee has much more taste than most you will find in China due to the Chicken Broth, Cayenne, and Sesame Oil.
If you want to add chicken or another meat to the Congee, I usually cook it separately and add it to the Congee later. If you had uncooked chicken, you could cook it with the Congee, but I use cooked canned chicken to save time and trouble. If you add canned chicken to the Instant Pot, it may burn before the Congee is done.
With canned chicken, I use two 10 ounce packages. I shred the chicken with a fork and stick it in the microwave (微波炉|wēibōlú) for 45 seconds before adding it to the Congee. Remember to put it in a bowl…metal and microwaves don’t mix.
Once you’re done, stir the Congee one more time to improve its consistency.
If you don’t eat it all in one sitting, I find it will keep well in the Instant Pot on Warm for around 4 hours. If you go much longer, though, it will burn.
It heats up fine in the microwave so you can store single servings in the refrigerator for a quick meal.