Congee is essentially watered down rice that cooks for a relatively long time. Where I’m from, we eat congee, or “xi fan,” plain: just white rice and water. There is usually an elaborate number of dishes to go with it though: steamed buns, pan-friend dumplings, scallion pancakes, preserved tofu, and pickled vegetables. The bowl of watery rice is a perfect, refreshing, and warming accompaniment to a meal. A closely-related dish is called “pao fan,” where leftover rice is simply cooked briefly in hot water. As a child, this was apparently my favorite thing to eat. When I visited family friends, they would always ask if I wanted a snack. My cousins would ask for candy or crackers, but I would always ask for “pao fan,” hence troubling our hosts with actually turning on a stove in the kitchen. I know, I was a food snob even when I was 5 years old.

A while ago, I decided to try my hand at making Congee the Hong-Kong style: with broth and some other ingredients. I was mostly just scavenging what was in my pantry and fridge. I was quite surprised actually at how delicious it was! It’s got a lot more flavor than I expected, and the peanuts added a delightful crunch. More importantly, it is essentially a meal on its own, so I don’t have to trouble myself with making tons of side-dishes.

I based my recipe off of the one from Appetite for China. I omitted the broccoli, and I used more shiitake mushrooms. I also used 1/2 regular short-grained white rice and 1/2 glutinous “sweet” rice. For my broth, I simply used water and chicken bouillon and the water that I soaked the mushrooms in.

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