ever rice is the staple, rice congee is the Chinese baby's
first solid food. It is also fodder for the convalescing when
bland food is called for. But it is best enjoyed as a foil
for savoury side dishes, most commonly for breakfast.
I cup rice (long, medium or short grain)
6 cups water
There is no fixed list of side dishes, but in Taiwan, most accompaniments are
pre-prepared, preserved dishes, many quite salty. These can be found at your
Chinese grocery store. A typical range of side dishes is pictured in the
photo: from the left, clockwise: Chinese sausage, fermented tofu in chilli,
dried Oriental radish (daikon), bamboo shoots in chilli oil, stewed peanuts,
pickled young ginger, pickled celtuce stem, and in the centre, salty duck
eggs. Try also Anchovies with Peanuts and Pickled
- Wash rice until water is reasonable clear,
- Boil water, add rice.
- Stir as you bring the rice to the boil again.
- Simmer on a very low heat for 20 minutes,
(do not cover). The last 5 minutes may need an occasional
stir to prevent sticking.
- Turn heat off. Stir to equalize heat.
- Put lid on pot and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Serve with accompaniments.
It is not uncommon for the Taiwanese to add a few pieces of sweet potato when
cooking the rice.
You can mix pickings from the side dishes into
your rice, or place them on top. Don't be afraid to lift the
bowl to your mouth to slurp the porridge – many people
eat it with chopsticks only.
Other possible side dishes include: any pickled
vegetable, stewed wheat gluten, small fried fish with peanuts,
canned eel, dried pork floss, fried egg, or any stir fried
I cook the rice for a short time so the structure
of the rice grain remains intact. Simply add more water and
cook longer if you prefer a softer more watery congee. With
leftovers, you will absolutely need to add a considerable amount
of water when reheating the rice.