Congee ~ Jok Plaw

Congee, or jok plaw, is an easy southeast Asian comfort food made with rice and ginger and whatever toppings you like though we’re partial to scallions, cilantro, and peanuts. Here’s how to make it.

A bowl of congee garnished with scallions and freshly ground black pepper with some fritters on the side.

“This is a gentle and comforting congee that heals and salves the soul. All is forgiven or forgotten after eating this suave silken potage. It is eaten for supper, a dinner alone or occasionally for breakfast. It is especially kind to those who are feeling unwell. Once done, it’s ready to use as a base for other, more complex congees. [Editor’s Note: And by “complex congees,” the author means those to which any number of things have been stirred in, whether scallion and cracked black pepper and a dash of soy sauce and a raw egg stirred in just before serving, as in the photo above, or shredded pork and and black pepper or shredded chicken and ginger or a sprinkling of peanuts or, well, just about anything, really.] Plain congee is really invalids’ food, but Thais and Chinese love its bland taste and easy-to-digest texture. Please note, many Chinese congee recipes use chicken stock in place of water. You can do that if you please. I suggest watering it down slightly if it’s a rich broth.–David Thompson

Congee | Jok Plaw

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 5 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 4 to 6
4.7/5 - 3 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

Rinse the rice well and drain it. Soak it in plenty of cold water for 2 to 3 hours–no longer or the cooked congee will be a thin, dull gruel with no perfume.

In a large, heavy pan, bring the water to a boil with the salt. Drain the rice and gradually pour it into the boiling water, stirring gently and constantly as the rice returns to a boil. (If the uncooked rice sticks to the pan and scorches, your congee will be ruined.)

When the rice begins to swell, turn down the heat to very low, cover with a lid, and simmer as gently as possible, stirring regularly and adding more water if needed, until the rice grains have almost dissolved, 45 minutes to 1 hour. The congee must simmer very, very gently, and it should not be too thick or dry–you may need to add more water as it cooks to maintain its soupy consistency. (If you didn’t use broken rice, you’ll need to cook it for somewhere around twice as long.)

Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for a short spell or up to a few hours. Ladle into bowls and pass the ginger, black pepper, scallions, cilantro, and peanuts on the side for each person to add as they desire. Originally published January 11, 2012.

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    *What You Need To Know About Broken Rice

    • We’re going to borrow author David Thompson’s definition of broken rice, which is, as he says, “simply the grains of rice that break and shatter during the milling process.” In the eyes of some, these broken kernels are damaged goods, separated from the whole grains, as it can no longer be used to make steamed rice. Thompson explains further, saying “the starch spills out of the broken grains as they cook, making a gluggy, gluey mass. Terrible for steamed rice, but wonderful for soup! Some Thai cooks prefer new season’s rice for congee, saying it makes a more supple soup, while others incline to old grains, saying it has more character and aroma. I plump for the latter. Broken rice is easily bought in Thailand, and is usually available in Chinese grocery shops. It is also very easy to make: just lightly grind or pound the required amount.” If you just don’t have it in you to trek to Chinatown or pound rice, you can still partake of congee. Just use regular whole-grain rice and simmer it a little longer as mentioned in the recipe above.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Goopy, soothing, and comfortingly bland, congee is Asia’s contribution to the great nursery food canon. Eaten on its own, it’s on the one-dimensional side, but it makes a terrific vehicle for a host of more dynamic ingredients. I ate mine with shredded ginger, chopped Spanish peanuts, and some soy sauce and it was wonderful.

    I must admit that I cheated a bit with this recipe; instead of using broken or even plain white rice, I used some black wild rice that I had on hand. It worked well, but as the recipe suggested it would, it took more than twice as long to cook. Still, it was worth the wait, and I’ll doubtless have plenty of opportunities to make it again during New York’s long winter.

    This is exactly what congee should be. Simple, warm, and satisfying on a cold day. This is a great recipe base to start from, and you can add anything you’d like to top it. I like a little bit of spice in my food, so I added a touch of Sriracha after trying out the recipe as written. I didn’t use broken rice, but it still cooked down in the time recommended for broken rice. I added about 2 additional cups of water as well.

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    Comments

    1. Turned out well, I had regular rice and put it into a food processor. I soaked it the day before because I didn’t have time to cook it, wrapped the drained rice up, and cooked it a few days later, which worked out totally fine. Reading the comments helped me understand what I was going for because I had never had it before. The consistency of mine was like watery oatmeal more so than grits. Super good, try some stock I the water.

    2. Ever since I had this in Thailand, I have been craving it. Thank you so much! I love that you have ‘Recipe Testers Reviews’ as well, that way you know its a legitimate recipe and people won’t be disappointed. Making this soon – thanks!

    3. This is the perfect food with any desired add ins for anyone on chemotherapy. It helps with fluid intake, electrolyte balance if you use bone broth after making the rice porridge. Ginger helps with stomach issues. An egg adds protein. Herbs are so good for people with cancer. I have been on chemo for two years and this has helped enormously.

      1. Love your suggestions, Louise. All of them. Thank you for sharing your ideas and your suggestions. I am so glad to hear that this sort of healing nutrition has been helping you! So much love and well wishes for you…

    4. I am a Jamaican and my coworker who is from Malaysia has been telling me for many years about the congee that she prepares for her family on Sundays. Today we spoke about it again. I went home and made congee using basmati rice, a sweet potato, a little salt, and garnished it with a little scallion. WOW! It was delicious.

      1. Carm, it sounds delicious! Am so glad to hear that you found your way to congee. It’s just so simple and yet so satiating, much like I find many of Jamaica’s porridges to be….

    5. Congee is pure comfort food – I make it whenever my husband is sick. I use part glutinous rice and part regular rice to get a nice thick, creamy consistency. Now that I have a fancier rice cooker, I just hit the porridge setting and let it cook on its own.

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