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Our late Saturday breakfast today was inspired by my sister in law mentioning making some congee. I’ve never made it before and wanted to for a while. Now this versatile tasty dish is going to be a staple in my house. It’s a simple and easy to make rice porridge (hardly any rice; it’s a surprisingly light dish) flavored with a little stock and topped with whatever you want: pork or chicken if you so desire, hot sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chilies, vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, green beans, green onion, bamboo shoots, and then maybe an egg. There are many recipes out there to be inspired by once you have the basic congee made. The only downside is the time it takes to cook the rice.

I went for a glorious 8-mile run this morning in the bright sunshine and felt exhausted and achy when I got home. Poor hubby (not really) had a late night and was moving very slowly. We needed a light, healthy, nutrient-rich breakfast. I started the congee while I ran a hot bath and let it simmer away for an hour and a half. The last bit of cooking time I prepared the vegetable toppings and poached an egg. Nothing too challenging! A simplified version of congee would be a great meal for young children. I wish I had served this to my young ones when they were toddlers.

Vegetable congee
serves 2 hungry humans
1/4 cup of rice (jasmine rice works well)
4 cups of water
1 cup vegetable stock
pinch of sea salt

1 cup shitake mushrooms
1 large carrot, julienned
1 handful fresh cilantro (coriander)
6 green onion, chopped into thirds
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
2 fresh eggs
olive oil
soy sauce
sriracha sauce or chili paste to serve

1) To prepare the congee, bring the rice, salt, water and stock to boil. Turn down to simmer and cover with a lid. Let cook about an hour and a half until the rice has turned to a soupy porridge.
2) Heat up a tbs of olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the garlic and ginger. Add the mushrooms and a splash of soy sauce. Cook until the mushrooms have absorbed their juices. Set aside.
3) Separately flash fry the carrot and green onion–about 30 seconds. Don’t overcook. Set aside.
4) Either soft boil, hard boil, fry or poach the eggs. I chose to poach them.
5) Serve the congee in bowls with the toppings and a splash of hot sauce, fresh sliced chilies and soy sauce as condiments.
One bowl goes down easily and you do not feel like you’ve had a heavy meal. There’s probably less rice in this than in a portion of vegetable soup with rice. Make for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late late night feed.