/ˈkɒndʒiː/ or /ˈkɑndʒi/) is a type of rice porridge
that is eaten in many Asian
countries. The word "congee" is possibly derived from the Dravidian
. In some cultures, congee is eaten primarily as a breakfast food or late supper; while in others, it is eaten as a substitute for rice at other meals.
In many Mandarin-speaking parts of the world, this dish is also referred to as "xifan" (traditional: 稀飯, simplified: 稀饭, pinyin: xī fàn), literally meaning "diluted rice."
Congee can be made in a pot or in a rice cooker. Some rice cookers even have a "congee" setting, allowing the user to cook their breakfast congee overnight.
There are many regional variations of Chinese
congees. For example, to make Cantonese
congee, white rice
in many times its weight of water
for a long time until the rice breaks down and becomes a fairly viscous
white porridge. Congees made in other regions may use different types of rice with different quantities of water, thus resulting in a thicker or more viscous product.
It is often eaten with zha cai, salted duck eggs, lettuce and dace paste, bamboo shoots, youtiao, wheat gluten, with other condiments, meat or century eggs.
Other seasonings, such as white pepper and soy sauce, may be added. Alternatively, grilled fish may be mixed in to provide a different texture.
Congee is often eaten with fried bread sticks known as youtiao. Congee with youtiao is commonly eaten as breakfast in many areas in China. Congee can be left watery or can be drained so that it has a texture similar to Western oatmeal porridge. Congee can also be made from brown rice, although this is less common and takes longer to cook.
Besides functioning as an everyday meal, congee is considered to be food therapy for the unwell. Ingredients can be determined by their supposed therapeutic value as well as flavor.
The origin of congee is unknown, but from many historical accounts, it is usually served during times of famine or when numerous patrons visit the temples. Thus, it can be interpreted as a way to stretch the rice supply to feed more people.
In China, congee has also been used to feed young infants. However, the cooking time is much longer than okayu, and because it is for infants, the congee is not seasoned with salt or any other flavoring, but often is mixed with pre-steamed and deboned fish.
Congee can also be made from other grains, like cornmeal, millet, barley, and sorghum. These are common in the north of China, where rice does not grow. Multigrain congee mixes are popularly sold in the health food sections of Chinese supermarkets. Congee with mung beans is usually eaten with sugar, just like red bean congee. The mung beans are eaten for their therapeutic "cooling" effect.
is the name for the type of congee eaten in Japan
is still considerably thicker than congee produced in other cultures. For example, a typical Cantonese style
congee uses a water to rice ratio of 12:1, but okayu
typically uses water to rice ratios of 5:1 (zen-gayu
) or 7:1 (shichibun-gayu
). Also, its cooking time is short compared to other types of congee; okayu
is cooked for about 30 minutes, while Cantonese congees cook for an hour or more.
may simply consist of rice and water, although salt is often added for seasoning. Beaten eggs
could be beaten into it to thicken it into gruel. Toppings may be added to enhance flavour; negi
(a type of green onion), salmon
, and umeboshi
fruit) are among the most common. Similarly, miso
stock may be used to flavor the broth. Most Japanese electric rice cookers have a setting for okayu
In Japan, okayu is popularly known as a food served to the ill, occupying a similar cultural status to that of chicken noodle soup in America. Because it is soft and easily digestible, okayu is the first solid food served to Japanese infants; it is used to transition them from liquids to the thicker rice dishes which constitute much of the Japanese diet. It is also commonly eaten by the elderly for the same reasons.
A type of okayu called nanakusa-gayu (七草粥, "Seven Herb Porridge") is traditionally eaten on 7 January, as a way of using special herbs that protect against evils, and to invite good luck and longevity in the new year. Moreover, as a simple, light dish, nanakusagayu serves as a break from the many heavy dishes eaten over the Japanese New Year.
In Korea the dish goes by the name juk
and is often cooked with vegetables, tuna, or other ingredients to create variants of the dish. Being largely unflavored, it is served together with a number of side dishes such as kimchi
, beef jerky
, pickled cuttlefish
, or other ingredients, to add flavor to the dish. One variety is called jatjuk
made with finely ground pine nut
flour, which has been regarded a quality food.
Juk is a common take-out dish, with several large chain stores selling it in South Korea, such as Bon Juk (본죽) and Hyun Juk (현죽).
It is also the dish of choice to serve the ill or elderly, as is it easily consumed and digested.
(alternately spelled "lugaw or "lugau") is the Filipino
name for congee. Very similar to Cantonese style congee, lúgao
is typically of a thicker consistency, retaining the shape of the rice while achieving the same type of texture. It is boiled
with strips of fresh ginger
. Other flavors may be added according to taste. Most often it will be topped with scallions
and served with crispy fried garlic
. As with okayu
or chicken stock
may also be used to flavor the broth. Lúgao
can also be served with tokwa't baboy
(beef tripe), utak
(pig's brain), as well as calamansi
, fish sauce
, and soy sauce
. It is often served to the ill and the elderly, and is favored among Pinoys
living abroad in colder climates because it is warm, soft, and easily digestible.
Some provinces prefer the Spanish-influenced arroz caldo (literally hot rice), which is often mistaken for a European dish due to its name. Arroz caldo is actually a Chinese congee that was adapted to the tastes of the Spanish colonial settlers who patronized Chinese restaurants in the Philippines. As the Spanish could not pronounce Chinese, they gave it a Spanish name for easy reference.
Arroz caldo is most usually spiced with saffron and black pepper in place of or in addition to the more traditional ginger and scallion. Arroz caldo more closely resembles risotto than congee, and is clearly recognized by the bright yellow hue contributed by the addition of saffron, and the larger pieces of meat. Arroz caldo is more popular among those of Ilokano heritage, although people of other provinces, such as Cebu, often add Philippine prawns, olive oil, bay leaf, and Chinese sausage.
Udupi rice ganji
is a variant made by Kannada
-speaking or Konkani people
in and around Udupi
, South India
). Here parboiled
rice (Kocheel akki
in Kannada, oorpel aari
in Tulu or ukda tandul
in Konkani) is steamed with a small amount of water. Fresh coconut is grated and its milk is skimmed; this milk is then added to the ganji
. The ganji
in Konkani) is served hot with fish curry, coconut chutney
, or Indian pickles
. In Tamil and Kerala a plain rice porridge, or the thick supernatant water on overcooked rice is called 'kanji' with no stress on either syllable (or both short syllables in the Tamil system based on duration of sounds).
In Thailand, rice congee is known as "jok" (โจ๊ก) and is often served as breakfast with a raw or partially-cooked egg added. In most, minced pork or beef is also added and the dish is usually topped with a small version of youtiao
(known as pahtongguo by Thais), garlic, spicy pickles such as pickled radish and chopped spring onions. Although it is more popular as a breakfast dish, many stores specializing in congee will sell it throughout the entire day. Variations in the meat and toppings are also frequently found.
In Vietnam, rice congee is called cháo
. It is sometimes cooked together with pandan
leaves. Cháo gà
is a variety of cháo
cooked with chicken and garlic. Other combinations includes duck meat and various pig organs. Many people tend to eat cháo when they feel sick because it is easy to digest. It is also made for death anniversary ceremonies, during which it is offered to the spirits of one's ancestors.