I fell in love with congee for breakfast many years ago, when the Thai food cart at my local farmer’s market sold piping hot bowls of it every Saturday morning. My recipe is based on my memory of their dish. A white rice base, cooked down in flavorful stock, and topped with crisp bacon, fresh scallions, and an egg. I use my Instant Pot pressure cooker to speed the process these days, but you can easily make it on the stovetop or slow cooker as well.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
What is Congee?
Congee is an Asian dish consisting of rice cooked with water or stock until it reaches a porridge or soup-like consistency. It can be served plain, or flavored with meat, seafood, or a variety of toppings and condiments. Similar dishes exist all over Asia, and they may be referred to as jook, jok, juk, zhou, chau, kanji, or okayu, depending on area of origin. The dish was first described in 1000 BC in China, but the word “congee” is not actually Chinese. As Lisa Lim writes in the South China Morning Post, it is more likely derived from the Tamil word “kanji,” and used by Europeans as a catch-all for rice porridge they encountered during early explorations of Asia. “Jook” is a better translation of the Cantonese word for congee, written as 粥.
To make congee, either raw or leftover rice is traditionally simmered slowly in a stockpot for a couple of hours with a large amount of water or stock, usually in about a 1:10 ratio. There is no wrong way to season it – I’ve seen recipes for beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, vegan, and even sweet congees. For a few variation ideas, check out the list here at Brit+Co. No matter what you stir in, congee is a wonderfully warming comfort food. I love it on cold days or when I’m feeling a little under the weather. I most often have it for breakfast, but there is also no wrong time of the day for congee. If my family liked it better, we’d eat it every weekend morning. Fortunately for me, it also reheats well.
Instant Pot Breakfast Congee
Instant pots and other pressure cookers don’t allow as much water to release while as stovetop cooking does, so you don’t quite need the 10:1 liquid to rice ratio. I use an 8:1 ratio with raw rice when making congee in my Instant Pot. My family inexplicably doesn’t care for congee, regardless of what types of flavors I add, so I start with only 1/2 cup of rice. I cook it in a bacon stock that I make while the rice cooks, and adds a ton of flavor.
To the 1/2 cup of rice, I add 4 cups of water. I add about 1/2 pound of bacon trimmings that I save from making my homemade bacon, but you could use a half package of store-bought bacon as well. A smoked ham hock would give a similar flavor. Then I add a 2″ knob of bruised ginger, 4 peeled garlic cloves, and 2 scallions.
Boil the water in the Instant Pot on the sauté setting if you’re in a hurry, or just place the lid on and set it for 30 minutes on the high pressure setting. Allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10 minutes (very important for rice recipes), and open the lid. Enjoy that delicious aroma, then give it a good stir. I usually begin to fish out my bacon and aromatics at this point, and taste the congee. I like mine on the thicker side, so I turn the pot back on to sauté and let it cook, stirring frequently, until the porridge thickens up to the consistency I prefer (about 5 minutes).
Turn off the heat. The congee can be seasoned at this point. Check the salt content, then add soy sauce, fish sauce, and salt to taste. The breakfast congee can now be portioned out into bowls. I top mine with crisp bacon (How to Cook Bacon), soft-boiled eggs, sliced scallions, a drizzle of sriracha, and a dollop of sate sauce (a Vietnamese garlicky Chile sauce). Momofuku’s slow-poached eggs would be awesome here if you have the time to make them, and you could easily use hard-boiled or regular poached eggs in the dish as well.
Stovetop and Slow Cooker Versions
The recipe only changes slightly if you don’t have a pressure cooker. Increase the ratio of water to rice to 10:1, and add cooking time. On the stovetop, simmer the rice, liquid, and aromatics for 1-2 hours with the lid on over a low to medium-low heat. A few bubbles are OK, but you don’t want a rapid boil. Stir occasionally, and use the spoon to agitate the grains of rice and help them to break down. Soaking or freezing the rice prior to cooking will also speed the process. Once it has reached the desired consistency, remove the bacon and aromatics, season, and serve as described above.
To make congee in the slow cooker, use a 10:1 ratio. Add all of the same ingredients, and cook on low overnight (8-10 hours). Taste for consistency in the morning, discard the bacon and aromatics, season, and serve.
Breakfast Congee with Bacon and Egg
- Instant Pot or pressure cooker (stovetop and slow cooker variations in notes)
- 1 cup white rice uncooked
- 8 cups water
- 8 oz bacon uncooked – may sub ham hock
- 2 inch knob fresh ginger peeled and bruised
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 2 scallions
- salt to taste
- soy sauce or fish sauce, to taste
Toppings and Garnish
- sriracha to taste
- sate sauce to taste (optional)
- 6 scallions diced
- 12 slices bacon cooked
- 6 eggs soft-boiled
- To Instant Pot or pressure cooker bowl, add: rice, water, uncooked bacon, ginger, garlic, and whole scallions.
- Pressure cook for 30 min on high. While congee is cooking, cook bacon and eggs for topping by whatever method you prefer. Allow natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes.
- Open pressure cooker and taste congee. Discard bacon and aromatics. Add salt and soy/fish sauces to taste.
- Change to sauté setting. Cook with cover off an additional approximate 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn heat off when desired porridge-like consistency is reached.
Top, Garnish, and Serve
- Ladle congee into 6 bowls. Top each with large crumbles of bacon, one halved soft-boiled egg, and a sprinkle of scallions.
- Allow each diner to season to taste with sriracha and/or sate sauce. Enjoy!