This porridge recipe shows you how to make the silkiest and most comforting Chinese porridge called the Lean Pork and Thousand Year Eggs Porridge (皮蛋瘦肉粥). Many people think that the only way to get the velvety smooth porridge is to simmer the porridge for long hours. In this porridge recipe, I’ll describe the method of getting this texture in less than an hour.
Many people have the impression that it is difficult to prepare the porridge of top rated restaurant quality. The truth is that you can master this porridge recipe easily by applying some simple techniques which will ensure the porridge has a velvety texture, the meat is soft and tender, and the eggs remain well-defined pieces after cooking.
A steaming bowl of Chinese porridge (or Jook if translated phonetically) works magic to alleviate the sniffles or just fill a belly. Chinese porridge is the go-to food when someone falls sick and is on a liquid diet. It is delicious, easy to digest and versatile for adding ingredients. It becomes a one-pot complete meal when vegetables are stirred into the meat porridge.
Note: If you come across any Chinese congee recipe, it is just another name of Chinese porridge!
Chinese Porridge Recipe
- 400g of pork loin or chicken breast meat, marinade with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 3 liters of water
- 250g of long grain rice
- 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
- 50g of ginger
- 2 stalks of spring onion cut to ¼ cm short pieces
- ½ teaspoon of sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon of white pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- Marinate the pork loin or chicken breast meat. Put it in a ziplock bag or plastic container and keep it in the chiller for 12 hours.
- Rinse the rice with water. Soak the rice with water for three hours. Remove excess water. Mix the rice with two teaspoons of vegetable oil. Put it in a container and store it in the freezer overnight. The oil helps to achieve a silky texture of the porridge.
- Fill a pot with 3 liters of water. Bring it to boil.
- Add the rice into the boiling water over high heat. Keep the water boiling vigorously and stir continuously for about ten minutes.
- Rinse the excess salt on the surface of the meat. Blanch the meat for a few seconds in boiling water to remove impurities and blood. Add it to the porridge.
- Reduce to medium heat and boil for another 10 minutes or until the rice grains start breaking up and the texture of the porridge becomes smooth and silky.
- After the meat is cooked, remove it from the porridge and shred into long pieces. Keep it aside.
- Cut the ginger into fine strips, and spring onion into short pieces.
- Cut the century egg into small cubes and add it to the porridge with half of the ginger.
- Add half teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of white pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt into the porridge.
- Cook for another 10 minutes (or longer depending on the consistency that you prefer).
- To serve, scoop the porridge into a bowl, add the shredded ginger, spring onion, shredded chicken and some white pepper. Serve hot.
How to cook porridge- a perfect Cantonese style Chinese porridge
It is not difficult to prepare Cantonese style Chinese porridge, but you need to know the techniques to cook an excellent one. The following porridge recipe tips will show you how to make a silky smooth porridge, with freezing techniques to cut the cooking time by half.
1. The freezing method (this is science!)
Traditionally, it takes at least two hours to simmer the porridge to reach the desired silky smooth texture. In this porridge recipe, we have shortened the time to about half an hour. This is achieved by using the freezing method.
Method:Wash the rice, soak it in water and freeze the rice overnight.
The water content of rice is drastically increased when rice is submerged in water. When the rice is placed in the freezer, the water within the rice grains will turn into ice. Since the volume of ice is about ten percent larger than the volume of water, it will alter the structure of the rice grain. As a result, the rice grain will easily be broken down into smaller pieces after freezing. Therefore, the total surface of the rice grains increases drastically, and the starch can break down much faster, thereby reduce the time required for cooking.
2. Knowing the right water-to-rice ratio
The right water to rice ratio is the key to cooking a perfect pot of Chinese porridge. The ratio of water to rice I use in this recipe is 12:1. The amount of water is sufficient to cook the porridge until the rice grains disintegrate forming a silky smooth sludge.
The amount of water depends on a number of factors. The heat of the stove, the amount of porridge in the pot and whether the rice is frozen before boiling contributes to how long it need to boil. It is better to use more water if you are hesitant about the required amount of water. If the porridge is too thin, you can boil longer to achieve a thicker consistency. However, if the porridge is too thick and you add water to dilute it, the water and the rice will tend to separate to two layers, as oil separates from water for in mayonnaise. This is certainly a point to avoid.
3. Common ingredients in Chinese porridge recipe
Chinese porridge is very versatile when it comes to the selection of ingredients.
You can add a variety of ingredients as long as you have prepared a perfect silky smooth porridge base. Pork and century eggs are used in this famous porridge recipe in Hong Kong, but you can substitute it with chicken, ground beef, fish fillet, prawns, and other seafood.
You can also add leftovers from the thanksgiving turkey. If you do so, add the cooked turkey meat to the porridge after the porridge is done. You can boil the turkey meat for a few seconds to heat it up or just serve it on top of the porridge in a bowl.
Other variations include substituting century eggs with salted eggs, using dry scallops as part of the seafood in the porridge, thinly sliced beef, beef balls, peanuts and mashed pumpkin. You can also add lettuce for a more balanced diet,
4. Rinse the rice only twice
The purpose of rinsing the rice is to remove impurities. Rinsing the rice more than twice is not necessary unless the rice is dirty. The rice starch will be washed away, which is essential to form velvety smooth porridge. Long grain rice is normally used to prepare Chinese porridge. This rice is used by most Chinese. Short grain rice will produce thicker porridge due to the higher content of starch. You need to use more water or reduce the amount of rice if short grain rice is used.
5. Marinate the meat
Don’t worry about too much salt in the marinade. The excess salt will be rinsed off before cooking. The meat should be cut into large chunks. In this recipe, I cut the meat into about five cm length.
6. Simmering the porridge
Follow the tips to cook silky and comforting, yet not sludgy or overly heavy porridge:
- Boil the porridge for over twenty minutes if you do not have time constraints. The longer you boil, the silkier the texture will be.
- Use high heat initially to rapidly break up the rice grains. The heat should be reduced to just simmering (like preparing a stew) to cook the meat slowly. Otherwise, high heat can toughen the meat.
- Stir the porridge continuously during the initial cooking stage when high heat is used, as the porridge can stick to the bottom of the pot. You only need to stir it occasionally after you reduce heat.
7. Century egg explained (Chinese: 皮蛋)
The century eggs should be added when the congee is almost done, as the egg yolk will disintegrate if it is cooked for too long and the congee will turn murky.
I agree century eggs are gross for some people. They look weird, smell awfully, and bring to mind mutated baby Godzillas. They have other names which I do not know how derived: hundred-year eggs, thousand-year eggs, millennium eggs, but actually they are preserved eggs.
The century eggs are traditional Chinese delicacy. The chicken or duck eggs are preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime for 15 to 20 days. During the preservation process, the color of the yolk becomes dark green with a creamy consistency and strong flavor due to the hydrogen sulfide and ammonia present, while the egg white turns to a dark brown, translucent jelly with a salty flavor.
Weird? You will never know the taste if you never try it. It will be a pleasant surprise for you.
8. Cook the porridge with stock
Good porridge is best to start with a good stock. The porridge forms a soft comforting canvas to which you can add your favorite ingredients such as shredded pork, beef, chicken, and seafood. Making porridge is similar to preparing cream soup in that the flavor relies on good quality stock.
9. Serving and garnishing
A drizzle of soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil on the hot porridge make it an endless bowl of comfort. Garnish the porridge with spring onions and some shredded gingers.
How to prepare spring onion for garnishing (double click to enlarge video)