Congee or rice porridge (juk) is a breakfast mainstay for many millions of Chinese people. Congee is made by boiling rice until it disintegrates into a thick porridge or rice soup. You’ll often see the server sprinkle a garnish of green scallions and crispy thin noodles just before serving this dish.
Congee has been a staple of Chinese cuisine for thousands of years. It was apparently created as a way to extend rice supplies in times of famine and shortages. Varieties of congee abound in different regions of China and many other Asian countries also have their own version of this time-tested food.
Common additions to congee include pork, beef, and fish and other seafood. One of my favorite varieties of congee is a version with preserved duck eggs and pork. Preserved duck eggs are admittedly an acquired taste and not that many non-Chinese people I know have acquired the somewhat bitter taste of these black-green eggs. So this type of congee may not be the best introduction to this food if you’re a congee rookie.
To take congee to a whole new level, you’ll want to try eating it with fried bread sticks (you tiao). Sometimes you’ll need to special order these delectable bread sticks from the kitchen but they are worth the wait.
Take a small section of the bread stick and soak it in your bowl of congee for several seconds until the bread stick has absorbed some of the congee but it is still somewhat crispy. The bread sticks are great just by themselves as well.
Depending on what ingredients are added, congee is usually low-fat and easily digestible so it may be a good choice when you’ll recovering from a gastrointestinal illness.