Vegetarian Rice Congee
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Congee, rice porridge, is my new favorite breakfast this year. I’ve been playing around with it a lot because there’s going to be a recipe for it in my cookbook. It’s probably not a weekday breakfast because the rice needs to simmer for a while to get really tender, but if you have the time, Vegetarian congee is a fantastic treat and one that most Americans haven’t tried.
1) Bring the water and stock to a simmer in a large pot. Reduce heat to medium and stir in rice. Let simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until rice thickens, about 30-40 minutes. If at any point the rice looks too thick, add more water.
2) When the rice is a porridge consistency season it well with salt and pepper. Keep the porridge warm over low heat until you're ready to serve.
3) For mushrooms, slice thin. Add a drizzle of oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrooms and cook until the mushrooms lose their liquid and soften, about five minutes. At the end of cooking, hit the shrooms with a small drizzle of soy sauce.
4) Spoon congee into a bowl and top with mushrooms, soft-boiled egg, herbs, chili sauce and mushrooms.
Vegetarian Congee: Making the Porridge
The nice thing about congee is that you can use any rice for it really. But, depending on what rice you use, you’ll get different results. If you use a short grained rice, it will almost all dissolve into a porridge. You won’t even be able to recognize it as rice. Meanwhile, if you use a longer grain of rice, like I did for this recipe, it’ll have a bit more texture to it which I prefer. You’ll also need some stock and a few dried chilies if you want to add some spice to the congee.
I usually start with 6-7 cups of liquid per cup of rice when I’m making congee and most of that liquid should be water. I usually do five cups of water, one cup of stock, and one cup of rice. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then stir in your rice and let it simmer until it starts to breakdown. If the mixture gets too thick at any point, you need to add more water! My congee was almost done after 35-40 minutes of simmering and stirring occasionally. Once the congee gets to this point, you can start seasoning it. It’ll need a BIG pinch of salt and pepper for starters. Taste as you season to make sure it has good flavor.
Most traditional congee dishes involve some sort of meat — pork is the standard. When I wanted to make a veggie version, I headed straight for the mushroom aisle.
I sliced up a few Shiitake and crimini mushrooms and then sautéed them over medium high heat in a tablespoon or two of oil. At the very end I hit them with a small drizzle of soy sauce just to up the savory flavors even more.
Finishing the Vegetarian Congee
Topping options are infinite for this Vegetarian congee. I like to toss in a soft-boiled egg for starters. I also added some fresh cilantro and chives and a few spoonfuls of chili garlic sauce. You can get crazy with the toppings though. Any crunchy veggie works great. Anything pickled is a good idea. Anything spicy will find its way into my bowl.
If you want to use leftover rice for this, which is what I do in the cookbook, just decrease the liquid by about half since the rice is already cooked. It’ll take less time but the rice should still almost dissolve into a thick porridge. This is one of my new favorite breakfasts to serve people because it’s not on the standard American breakfast menu, but it should be.
This Vegetarian congee dish is all about toppings. You can kind of make it your own. How do you spice up your meals to make them more interesting? Leave a comment on this post answering this and be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card courtesy of RiceSelect!
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