January 3, 2017

Brrr it’s been cold here lately, and on chilly days like this, there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of congee to warm you up! Congee, or “jook,” is the Chinese equivalent to porridge. It’s the ultimate Chinese comfort food, and every Chinese kid has grown up eating this for breakfast or sometimes lunch. My husband loves it with fish fillet, and I enjoy it with pork and uh, special Chinese egg (I’ll skip the explanation on that one for now). Yummy stuff.

I am Chinese American and I have struggled to get the right congee (or “jook”) consistency for the last 10 years. But it has eluded me time and time again. How could this super easy staple in Chinese cooking be so hard for me?

I’ve tried cooking it over the stovetop for 6-7 hours.

I’ve tried it in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours.

I’ve tried it in the Instant Pot for 2 hours (it’s supposed to be only 30 mins).

I’ve tried each of these methods MULTIPLE TIMES and have only really liked it maybe twice. But I could never replicate the consistency of the one that I liked. Was it the type of rice I used? Had I used day-old refrigerated rice? Was it the temperature that I cooked it at? Was it the liquid to rice ratio? WHAT DID I DO RIGHT AND WHY CAN’T I DO IT AGAIN?

It was embarrassing. Ben was, as always, encouraging, but I started giving up after maybe 5 years of experimenting. Once we had kids, though, I was more determined than ever to get this down. Everybody else’s mom was feeding their kids jook. I had to figure this out. It continued to elude me. The congee was never thick enough, the rice not broken down quite right, the consistency disappointing.

And then one of the savviest and most knowledgeable moms I have ever come across posted a tip that CHANGED MY LIFE: FREEZE THE RICE FIRST. That’s it, folks. Just wash your uncooked rice, stick it in the freezer for at least 8 hours, and then sciencey magic happens and not only does the congee consistency turn out great, but supposedly you can make it in just 20 minutes over the stovetop! Here’s more on the sciencey magic and a detailed and tasty-looking recipe you can try. The main thing to remember is that you really do need to wash, or at least wet your rice before freezing.

Sweet! It worked perfectly the first time, and I am now looking forward to using this method again and again! For me, I keep it simple. I make jook whenever I buy a rotisserie chicken from Costco or Sprouts. I throw in a cup of (frozen) rice with about 7 cups of liquid (mostly chicken stock… I know, I’m a cheater) and the bigger bones and carcass from the rotisserie chicken. Once the porridge timer goes off, I vent it, take out the bones, add in about 2 cups of shredded chicken, and it’s ready to serve.

So tasty and simple! Congee believe it? 😀 HEHE.

Instant Pot Congee Recipe (Stove top recipe below)
Makes about 8 cups


Instructions for Instant Pot

  1. Put frozen washed rice into Instant Pot. Add 7 cups of water and/or chicken stock.
  2. Optional: Add bones of rotisserie chicken. Note that you will have to fish them all out later, which can kind of be a pain, so feel free to skip this step if you’re going for a REALLY simple recipe.
  3. Put on lid and set vent to “seal.” Push the “porridge” button for 20 minutes of pressurized cook time.
  4. Meanwhile, shred 1-2 cups of chicken into bite sized pieces.
  5. When the timer is up, carefully vent the pot and remove the lid. Take out any bones, then stir in the chicken pieces.
  6. Ladle into bowls and add desired toppings (or just eat as is, like my kids do!). Yum! A hearty and delicious meal!

To cook over the stove top:

  1. Bring water and chicken stock to a boil. Add the frozen rice (no need to defrost) and bring to a boil again, stirring the rice to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to a low simmer, and cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring the congee every few minutes to prevent sticking on the bottom.
  2. Add mix-ins, simmer for an additional 5 minutes, then serve with any toppings.


14 responses to “Brilliant Trick to Get 20 Minute Congee with GREAT Consistency!”

  1. S.K. says:

    B.K.’s dad gifted us an Instant Pot for Christmas, but we’ve yet to take it out of the box. Will forward this recipe to B for him to try! Also, I love special Chinese eggs 🙂

  2. faisane says:

    A few days ago, pressed for time, I took the rice out of the freezer after 40 minutes – it was already frozen solid, and it cooked beautifully. So have no fear, congee makers!
    Also, you may want to check the times given – why would Instant Pot cooking time be 20 minutes at pressure, and stove-top 15 + 5, i.e. the same? Seems to me pressure ought to be faster, no?

    • joellen says:

      Woohoo! So glad to hear it!
      I had the same question about the cooking time. I also feel like the IP should take less cooking time than over the stovetop, but I haven’t tried less time myself yet so I’ll have to update it after I try sometime. Please do report back if you try and find a shorter time that works! =D

  3. ashok says:

    My Family Loved it. I am definitely sharing Guys, Thanks For sharing this Great Recipe. this recipe and this website with my friend. Hope they also love it. Thank you again for sharing such a great recipe.