If I had to pick only one breakfast to eat every day for the rest of my life, it would be congee: the thick, creamy, savory rice porridge with a zillion names around the world. You might know it as congee, kanji, jook, juk, okayu, lugaw, bubur, cháo, rice porridge, and so on. Regardless of what you call it, congee holds top ranks on the savory breakfast leaderboard, and in my humble opinion, it’s enjoyable any time of the day!
You can read more about congee and the importance of wet breakfasts (hydration!) at Andrew Sterman’s site in his article Congee and Wet Breakfasts for Health.
- ⅔ cup white jasmine rice (dry)
- 4 ½ cups water
- ¼ tsp white pepper or you can use just 1/8 tsp to add just a hint of flavor
- 1 large thumb of ginger peeled and cut into short matchsticks
- 1 rib celery diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 tsp salt (OPTIONAL) **NOTE** after years of making it this way I'm now making it with no salt (except in the toppings) but someone transitioning from a Standard Diet may resonate more with the initial salt
Toppings (PER SERVING)
- 1 tbsp Sambal Oelek chili paste (optional for flavor and spice)
- ½-1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 scallion/green onion sliced, both white and green parts
- Cook on high pressure for 20 mins, quick release, stir, stir, and stir with a ladle. Add water if you'd like it thinner, or gently simmer using the sauté mode (low heat) if you prefer it thicker.
- Scallions/green onions, thinly sliced (always add green onions or something similar!!)
- Low sodium soy sauce
- A couple of dollops of Sambal Oelek chili sauce
- Anything else you fancy, this is a remarkably adaptable meal!
Congee has various names and interpretations across different cultures. Below are some names for congee and their associated regions:
- Congee: General English term, known internationally
- Jook (粥): Cantonese-speaking regions like Hong Kong and Guangdong, China
- Zhou (粥): Mandarin-speaking regions, Mainland China
- Okayu (お粥): Japan
- Cháo: Vietnam
- Lugaw: Philippines
- Bubur: Indonesia, Malaysia
- Kanji: South India
- Kola Kanda: Sri Lanka
- Khao Tom (ข้าวต้ม): Thailand (Though Khao Tom can also refer to a more soup-like dish with rice)
- Juk (죽): Korea
- Ginataan: Philippines (a variant with coconut milk)
- Kanjiya or Kanzhi: Sri Lanka
- Payesh: Bengal, India (sweet version)
- Pongal: Tamil Nadu, India (a spicier, more textured variant)
- Kheer: North India (sweet version)
- Congee (Kongee): Anglo-Indian name, used among Anglo-Indians and older Indian communities
- Arroz Caldo: Philippines (a version with chicken)
- Muay (หม้อย): Thailand, a more generic term for porridges and gruels, sometimes used to refer to congee
- Rice Gruel: Generic term sometimes used in English-speaking countries — but seriously, what is it about the word GRUEL that sounds like the opposite of appetizing?
Note that in some regions, different types of congee have different names, and some terms might not be exact equivalents but are local interpretations or variations of rice porridge. The same dish can also differ in consistency, additional ingredients, and overall flavor depending on the region.