I’ve been getting really fed up of muesli recently. It’s what I have for breakfast on weekdays but I don’t really like it much. I eat it because it’s an easy way to get some fresh fruit, I can get some calcium enriched rice milk at the same time, and it’s also easy to stir some Udo’s oil into it. (I try to have 1 tbsp of Udo’s oil per day as it’s a good blend of essential oils. It’s pretty disgusting on its own but it’s just about OK stirred into muesli).
I far prefer savoury things to sweet anyway, and this seems doubly so in the mornings. I used to eat marmite on toast every day but I was finding myself hungry by 9! So, I’ve been extremely adventurous and made myself some congee.
When I’ve been on holiday in Asia there always seems to be congee at breakast but it often has fish or pork already added. It always seemed the type of thing that would appeal to me though. Like many things my decision to make it was based on something I read on the BBC food boards. I’d been intrigued by some tins of preserved vegetables that I’d seen in my local chinese shop, and I asked for help with what to do with them. Someone suggested congee and the idea was born.
All you do is cook white rice with more water than you normally would and for longer than you normally would, until it turns porridge like. I cooked a big pot at the weekend then put it into the fridge and reheated it in the microwave. Then, you can add pretty much whatever you want. I added soya sauce, chopped spring onion, the preserved vegetable and some chopped tofu. It was delicious!
However, thinking about it white rice for breakfast is not a super healthy option either. So this week, I made a completely bastardized version of congee which would probably have chinese people running after me with a cleaver. I used brown rice! It needed cooking for ages and I had to add stacks of water, so I ended up with about 3 times more rice than I needed. It never got as porridgey and silky as the white version but it was still nice and soft. In addition, I threw in a couple of grated carrots just as it finished cooking and let it mingle in with the rice. I had them hanging around from my veg box anyway and I figured that local grown organic carrots would be a better bet than the chilean blueberries on my muesli. Apart from that, the toppings were the same except I left off the tofu, jut because I didn’t have any.
The texture wasn’t as good as the white version but it’s no doubt better for me and was still nicer than the bloody muesli!!! (I forced myself to just take a spoonful of the Udo’s oil before I eat my congee; the preserved vegetables soon knock the taste away!)
Where’s my cleaver?!!!
🙂 Only joking. When I first saw the picture, it looks just like steamed white rice, not very liquid at all?
My parents make a thai version of this, by simmering veg stock, adding various vegetables like pak choi, preserved veg, mushrooms, (prawns and squid) and cold, cooked rice. Then you have big bowls of coriander and spring onion, and one of fish sauce with chilli, garlic, lime and ginger to add to your bowls. Delicious, but not very veggie friendly. Is there a veggie fish sauce?
It does look like steamed rice but it was softer and runnier. Probably not as soft and runny as real congee though. I couldn’t get ove how much water it needed – I probably should have kept adding it for longer.
I’m hoping to find some veggie fish sauce soon but for now if I see it in a recipe I use light soy with some juice from the caper jar. I know that’s not right but it’s probably as close as I’m going to get.
this sounds like such a good breakfast! I’m glad you tried it with brown rice, because this something I might try at some point, but I could never start out my day with white rice. I do love the ‘savoury porridge’ idea – have you ever tried Fuul? I haven’t, but it sounds good – it’s basically stewed fava beans with a bit of tomato, onion, and spices. I think it’s Egyptian and also African? Anyway, I could go for some congee right now, I so don’t feel like oatmeal again! :p
What a good idea Liz, I too hate breakfast cereal and go through phases of eating it but I really don’t enjoy it. The same is true of porridge, I know it is good for me but it is boring and like you I don’t have a sweet tooth so adding fruit is just piling on the agony. A few weeks ago I tried a different flavoured porridge every day I tried porridge with chilli flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper but my favourite was to soften an onion in the microwave then add a little bit of madras curry paste the porridge and the water, I enjoyed it. I might have a go at the congee especially as I am trying to cut back on bread ( I eat too much) so I have to find something to replace my toast and hummus which is my current breakfast.
you know, some chinese people in malaysia use marmite to flavor their congee…