Jan 2, 2021

Savory Taiwanese Congee 台式鹹粥

Congee or porridge? I was having a hard time naming it. To make it even more confusing, I found out there're also Korean version "jook" or "juk," which sounds more like the Taiwanese pronunciation for this recipe. Put the names aside, this is basically a porridge-like meal made with rice, pork strips, and veggies. Definitely comforting and nutritious. You can also serve with some canned food to eat along with. Besides lunch and dinner, some locals eat such food for breakfast. 

Savory Taiwanese congee 台式鹹粥 -

Ingredients (about 8 portions)?

  • 3 1/2 rice measuring cups white rice
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 medium cabbage
  • 12 green beans
  • 1 stalk skinny celery 
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons dried little shrimps
  • 1 tablespoon crispy shallots (in oil)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Some salt

Pork and marinate:

  • 300 grams pork strips (like thicker pork julienne)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch 

Shiitake mushroom preparation:

  • 8 dried shiitake mushroom
  • 2 cups water 


Rinse rice grains and change water about 2 to 3 times, like what you'll usually do before cooking rice. Refill some water and soak for 30 minutes. Once ready, drain and set aside for later use.

Use two cups of cold water to soak the dried shiitake mushroom, about 30 minutes. Save the soaking water. Take out the softened shiitake, pat dry, remove tougher stems and slice the caps into strips.

If you can't find pork strips, slice the pork belly or sirloin into thick julienne pieces instead. Marinate the pork strips with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine, and 1 teaspoon corn starch. Give the meat some massage and let it marinate while prepping other ingredients.

Soak the dried shrimps with water, about 10 minutes. Once ready, dry well using a kitchen towel, then fine chop the shrimps.

Tear off the tougher ends and remove attached strings from the beans. Cut the beans into shorter sections. Finely chop crispy shallots in oil. If you can't fine the oiled version, simple crispy shallots will do, it'll boost up the aroma for the congee.

Peel and julienne the carrot. Tear of the leafy part of cabbage into medium sized pieces. We are not going to use the tougher stems, save that for other dishes or you can make a light-tasting stock afterwards.

Use a big pot, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and add in chopped dried shrimps and shiitake mushrooms. Turn to medium heat, cook till the mixture starts to bubble. Add in crispy shallots along with 1 teaspoon of salt. Give it a quick mix.

Add in pork strips along with its marinade. Turn to medium high heat, cook about 30 seconds. 

Transfer carrot and beans over. Continue to cook for about 1 minute.

Add in cabbage. It'll almost fill the entire pot. 

Don't worry. Let the heat do the work. Just be patience and wait till cabbage leaves start to wilt.

Pour in soaked rice. Also pour in the shiitake soaking water, about 2 cups. On top of that, add 3 cups of chicken stock and 5 cups of water. The stock to water mixture varies, but try not to use all stock since it can be too heavy for the congee. Preferably more water to stock ratio for this recipe. To recap, we used a total of 10 cups of liquid here: 2 shiitake water, 3 chicken stock, and 5 plain water.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 to 18 minutes, or till the congee reaches your preferred consistency. It only took 15 minutes for me. Make sure to mix these ingredients once a while. You can also add in extra stock or water if a watery, soupy consistency is desired. Taste and adjust with additional salt if needed.

Scoop the congee to serving bowls and garnish with some chopped celery. You can serve the congee with canned food, like spicy ground pork and Korean crispy seaweed I have here.

Since we're using uncooked rice grains, one might think that it can take quite some time for the grains to turn into congee-like consistency. At least that's what I thought in the beginning. Especially when using rice cooker, it can easily take longer than 40 minutes till the machine beeps. To the contrary, it only took 15 minutes for my big pot of congee after I added in the grains. 

Besides leftover cabbage stems, I also ended up with a handful of celery. I have to buy a full bundle of celery at the grocery store. One thing that traditional market still wins me over sometimes is because that the vendors there are more flexible. If you only need like 2 red chilies or a tiny chunk of ginger, they won't mind selling such petite portion, sometimes they'll just toss that to your bag without any extra charges. It'll be nice if I can only get that one little string of celery, cilantro, or scallion for garnish when I go shopping.

So I ended up finely chop all the leftover ingredients and made a big heavily seasoned stir-fry dish. That's the easy way to go, which I can also serve as toppings for dry noodles. These leftover veggies can be gone in no time. Housewife's wisdom, I called.

One little side note here, if you're going to store the congee for later meal. When reheating the congee, make sure to add more light stock or water when doing so. The grains will continue to absorb the stock even when stored in the fridge. It won't dry out, but the consistency will get thicker over time. Simply adding extra stock or water will do the trick.

Other rice recipes:

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