If we absolutely must get out of our cozy bed in the morning, we’re going to need a hot, comforting breakfast on the other side. This quick congee, from Sarah Owens’s new cookbook, Heirloom: Time-Honored Techniques, Nourishing Traditions, and Modern Recipes, is just the thing to start our day on the right foot.
“Much like the ubiquitous dumpling, porridge can be found in every culture as a nourishing subsistence food,” Owens writes. “I grew up on ho-hum Cream of Wheat for breakfast, so when I visited Scotland, their oats served with tangy poached rhubarb and fresh, thick cream were a revelation.” Congee, or rice porridge, is traditional in Asian countries as a nourishing, easy-to-digest meal—the ultimate comfort food. It’s also dead simple to make: Rice is cooked until it’s nearly disintegrated. But somehow, Owens made it even easier.
“It traditionally takes hours to complete,” she continues, “but by soaking, portioning and freezing the rice ahead of time, it quickly thickens to a beautiful canvas for any number of toppings. Although cooking times may vary, this recipe is meant to work with whatever type of rice you may have on hand.”
Psst: It also happens to make an excellent light lunch.
Recipe adapted from Heirloom: Time-Honored Techniques, Nourishing Traditions, and Modern Recipes by Sarah Owens. Published by Roost Books, 2019.
1 cup long-grain rice
4 to 4½ cups broth of choice (homemade or store-bought)
Kosher salt, as needed
To Garnish (optional)
Handful of fresh herbs, such as spicy arugula, shiso, cilantro, chives or chive blossoms
One 2½-inch piece fresh of ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
2 cooked eggs (poached, sunny-side up or boiled and sliced)
2 scallions, sliced, white and green parts
3 tablespoons bonito flakes (found in Asian markets)
1. Place the rice in a medium bowl and add water to cover by at least 2 inches. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave to soak overnight. Rinse and drain well, then divide the rice between two small freezer bags. Label and seal, then place in the freezer. Freeze at least overnight or for up to six months.
2. Remove the rice from one bag, place it in a saucepan and add 4 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Season with salt and continue cooking until the rice has broken down into a viscous texture, 20 to 30 minutes, adding more broth to thin it if you like (it will thicken upon cooling). Serve hot topped with your choice of garnishes.