Congee is a rice porridge, also known as Jook. I grew up with it because it is an affordable meal as my family wasn’t rich. As a firstborn, I had to help my parents by taking care of my litter sisters. Jook is what I would feed them when they were little babies. It is so comfortable and easy to digest. Making congee is super easy but if you want to make it perfect, there are some tricks here and there. Let me share my secrets with you.
- 2.5 cups of Cooked Rice
- 8-10 cups of unsalted chicken stock
- 6 shitake mushrooms
- 2 bok choy
- Julienne ginger
- Diced scallion
- 2 tsps. of salt or to taste
- 1/2 tbsp of sugar
- White pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp of sesame oil
To marinate the chicken
- 14 oz of chicken breast
- 2/3 tsp of salt
- 1.5 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbsps. of cornstarch
Start by bringing 8 cups of chicken stock to a boil. Although your Jook is only as good as your stock, you can use water. When I was little, my family wasn’t fancy, we use water all the time so nothing is wrong with that.
Once the chicken stock is nice and bubbling, add 2.5 cups of cooked rice, which will drop the temperature. When it comes back to a boil, give it a few stirs to loosen up any possible grains that are sticking at the bottom. After that, don’t stir it too much because it will create lots of starch which causes the rice to burn at the bottom. Jasmine rice is my preferred rice for making congee. This is a great recipe to use up your leftover rice, and it shortens the cooking time as well. If you don’t have cooked rice, you can use 1/3 cup of uncooked rice but it will take at least 30 minutes to simmer and you will have to adjust the water amount depending on the evaporation.
Switch the heat to medium-low. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Here is another trick. I like to place a pair of chopsticks on the pot and put the lid on top of it. Congee is one of those soups that will definitely overflow if the lid is on. Putting the chopsticks solves the problem perfectly.
While waiting, we slice the chicken breast thinly. Marinade it with 1 tsp of salt, 1.5 tbsps. of Chinese cooking wine, 1 egg white, 2 tbsps. of cornstarch, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. Mix this for 5 minutes straight up.
Using cornstarch and egg white mixture in the marinade is a method called velveting in Chinese cuisine. It preserves the moisture of the meat while cooking, preventing the fibers from sizzling up, and it gives you a juicy, tender texture that literally melts in your mouth. This marinade can be applied to beef and pork as well. Give it a try and you will be surprised. The Chinese name of this dish is called 香菇滑鸡粥? The word 滑 means smooth. It specifically refers to this velvety texture. Without that, your jook is never perfect.
Slice some mushrooms. Roughly cut 2 baby bok choy. You can use other vegetables such as zucchini, spinach, cabbage, daikon radish. Julienne 1 inch of ginger thinly. Ginger is very important here. It gives the jook a warm feeling and makes it so comfortable. If you don’t like to actually bite into the ginger, you can grate it finely so it is not too strong for you. Last, dice some scallion.
The rice soup has been simmering for 10 minutes. Add the mushroom slices and the ginger shreds. Season it with some salt and sugar to taste. You could do soy sauce but it will make the jook color off white.
Take a whisk and stir the rice soup for a few minutes to mingle everything together as well as break up the grains. The more you stir, the creamer your jook will come out. So this really depends on your preference. Some people like it super creamy so they stir it for longer. I don’t. I prefer it to be slightly coarse. That’s why I only did it for 3 minutes. I think my jook is a little bit too thick so I added 1.5 cups of chicken stock, which I have brought to a boil on a separate stove. Depending on the evaporation, you may or may not need it.
Add the marinade chicken to the rice soup. Stir well to make sure they don’t stick together. As soon as the chicken changes color, turn off the stove. Throw in the baby bok choy. Give it a quick mix and let the rest of the heat cook the chicken through. This way, the meat will come out perfect.
Before serving, add some white pepper to taste and drizzle in 1 tbsp of sesame oil. Mix well.
You can serve this with deep-fried donut sticks, or pickled vegetables. I am going with fermented tofu today, which is a classic.
Despite the simple ingredients, The combination is incredible – so flavorful and savory. The soup is nice and creamy, with the tender soft chicken, so comfortable.
Chicken Congee with Mushroom (香菇滑鸡粥)
- Bring 8 cups of chicken stock to a boil. Add cooked rice and simmer for 10 minutes. To prevent the congee from overflowing, you can place a pair of chopsticks on the pot and put the lid on top of it.
- Slice the chicken breast thinly. Marinade it with salt, Chinese cooking wine, egg white, cornstarch, and garlic powder. Mix this for 5 minutes.
- Slice the mushrooms. Chop the baby bok choy. Julienne the ginger. Dice the scallion.
- Add the mushroom slices and the ginger shreds to the rice soup. Season with some salt and sugar to taste.
- Use a whisk to stir the rice soup for a few minutes to break up the grains. The more you stir, the thicker and creamer your jook will come out. Check the consistency of your jook and decide if you need to add more stock or water. If you do, bring the stock or water to a boil on a separate stove before adding.
- Add the marinade chicken to the rice soup. Stir well to make sure they don’t stick together. Turn off the heat as soon as the chicken changes color. Let the rest of the heat to cook the chicken through so you don’t over cook your meat.
- Last, add the baby bok choy, white pepper, sesame oil, and diced scallion. You can serve jook with deep-fried donut sticks, pickled vegetables, or fermented tofu.