This Chinese porridge recipe is one of the most comforting breakfast favorites among the Chinese. The porridge (congee) is called the Lean Pork and Century 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 half the time.
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 complete one-pot 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 recipe!
Tips and tricks
Do you want to make a fantastic pot of porridge? No problem.
Please read this tips and tricks before printing out the porridge recipe. (The recipe is just right after the tips.).
This cooking note was written while I cooked, test, plus my observation of how my mom did it (mother’s cooking is always the best 🙂 ), and information from books, videos, and articles.
1. How to prepare the rice to get the silky smooth texture
(The traditional vs. the super fast freezing method)
The traditional method
Cantonese porridge is famous for its silky texture. Traditionally, it takes more than an hour of simmering to get the desired texture. Fortunately, you can freeze the rice before simmering to speed up the process.
Here are the steps
- Soak. Soak the rice in water for one hour. (It helps to soften the rice.)
- Salt. Add some salt and oil to the rice and leave it for half an hour.
- Rinse. Rinse the rice with water twice.
- Boil. Add the rice to boiling water and proceed to cook the porridge.
Soak the rice, adding salt and oil help to soften the rice grain. This step will shorten the duration to cook the rice until it becomes silky and homogeneous.
Use frozen rice in this porridge recipe to reduce the simmering time significantly
The freezing method (this is science!)
In this porridge recipe, we have shortened the time by half by using the freezing method.
Here are the steps
- Rinse. Rinse the rice with water twice. Drained.
- Salt. Add some salt and oil to the rice.
- Freeze. Freeze the rice overnight or at least until it is frozen.
- Boil. The next day, add the frozen rice to boiling water and proceed to cook the porridge.
How it works
When the rice is frozen, the water within the rice grains will turn into ice. Since the volume of ice is ten percent larger than 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 will break down much faster, thereby reduce the time required to achieve the velvety texture.
Rinse the rice only twice Why?
We are used to rinsing the rice repeatedly until the water runs clear before steaming the rice. But why is it only need to rinse twice in this porridge recipe?
Reason: Rinsing the rice twice is to remove the impurities. Further rinsing will remove the starch which is essential to form velvety smooth porridge.
You can use long or short grain rice to make porridge. 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.
2. The water-to-rice ratio for the best porridge recipe
The 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 15:1. This amount of water is sufficient to cook the porridge until the rice grains disintegrate forming a silky smooth sludge.
However, the actual amount of water depends on the heat of the stove, the amount of porridge in the pot and whether the rice is frozen.
Use more water if you are unsure. If it is insufficient water, you can add water to it, but it has to be boiling water.
Adding cold water tends to cause the porridge separate into two layers, much like oil separates from water in mayonnaise.
3. How to enhance the flavor of the ingredients right away
The choice of ingredients differs from one Chinese porridge recipe from another. You can use any ingredients to the silky smooth porridge base.
Pork and Century eggs (also called thousand-year eggs) are used in this famous Cantonese porridge recipe, but you can substitute it with chicken, ground beef, fish fillet, prawns, and other seafood.
You can also substitute the shredded lean pork with the 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 porridge recipes may include dry scallops as part of the seafood in the porridge, thinly sliced beef, beef balls, peanuts and mashed pumpkin.
Below is the details of each of the ingredients in this porridge recipe:
Pork loin is the favorite cut to make this porridge.
Here are the steps to prepare the pork before cooking:
- Cut. Cut the pork into large chunks. (About 2 cm thick, 10cm length.)
- Marinate. Marinate with salt and vegetable oil overnight (or at least half a day) in the refrigerator.
- Blanch. Blanch the pork in boiling water for one minute to remove blood and impurities. Drained.
- Cook. Cook together with the rice until the porridge is done.
Don’t worry about too much salt in the marinade. The excess salt will be washed off during blanching. Cut the meat into large chunks because we want to boil it together with the rice.
Century egg (Chinese: 皮蛋)
I agree century eggs are gross for some people. They look weird, smell awful, and bring to mind the mutated baby Godzillas. They have other names which I do not know how they are derived: hundred-year eggs, thousand-year eggs, millennium eggs, but in fact 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. Over time, 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.
Here are the steps to prepare the century eggs:
- Cut. Cut the eggs carefully into small pieces. Be gentle as it is quite soft.
- Cook. Add half of them to the porridge at the early stage of cooking.
- Garnish. Add the remainder at the final five minutes so that they will remain well-defined pieces after cooking.
Century egg is alkaline, which helps the rice disintegrate quickly. They will eventually dissolve completely into the porridge if you cut them into very small pieces. That is why you should reserve some to add at the last minutes so that they remain as the whole piece when served.
Others: ginger, scallion, salted eggs and lettuce
By now your may understand why the porridge is so delicious. It is more than just pork and century eggs in the porridge recipe.
– Cut the ginger into fine julienne.
– Use half of it to cook the porridge.
– Soak the other half in water to reduce its strong flavor. Place it on top of the porridge as accompaniment.
– Cut the scallion into small pieces.
– Marinate with light soy sauce.
– Scoop a teaspoon of the marinated scallion on the porridge to serve.
– clean the salted eggs thoroughly.
– Place the raw eggs in the porridge and simmer together. (Much like making a hard-boiled egg).
– Remove from the simmering porridge. Crack the eggs and cut into small pieces.
– Return half of the egg pieces to the porridge and continue cooking.
– Keep the remainder as the accompaniment to serve.
– Cut the lettuce into strips.
– Mix with salt, place it in a colander or strainer for 30 minutes.
– Drained and squeezed dry the lettuce.
– Place some lettuce at the bottom of the bowl. Pour the boiling porridge over it and serve.
This step is to remove the raw taste and excess water that affect the flavor of the porridge.
4. Simmer to the desired thickness you want
Follow the steps to cook silky and comforting, yet not sludgy or overly thick porridge:
– Use hot water to cook can reduce stickiness at the bottom
– Boil the porridge with the traditional method if you do not have time constraints. The longer you cook, the silkier the texture will be.
– Use high heat initially to break up the rice grains rapidly.
– Reduce to a bare simmer, like preparing a stew. High heat can toughen the meat.
– Stir the porridge occasionally, as the porridge can stick to the bottom of the pot.
5. Feast your eyes with beautiful 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 the shredded pork, marinated spring onions, Century eggs. salted eggs, some shredded ginger, and freshly chopped scallions.
Check out this video- how to cut the scallion to garnish the porridge.
For the rice
For the pork
- 400 g pork loin, or chicken breast meat
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the rice
- Rinse the rice with water twice. Soak the rice with water for three hours. Remove excess water. Mix the rice with two teaspoons of vegetable oil and one teaspoon of oil. Put it in a container and store it in the freezer overnight. The oil helps to achieve a silky texture of the porridge.
For the pork
- Cut the pork loin into about ten cm length, about 2cm thick,
- Marinate the pork loin. Put it in a ziplock bag or plastic container and keep it in the chiller for 12 hours.
- 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.
For the lettuce
- Cut the porridge into strips.
- Add a teaspoon of salt to it and mix well.
- Drained away the water by placing it in a colander.
- Squeeze the lettuce to remove any excess water.
For other ingredients
- Cut the century egg into small pieces.
- Cut the hard-boiled salted egg into small pieces.
- Cut the ginger into fine julienne.
- Cut the scallion into 2-3 mm short sections. Marinate with some light soy sauce.
To cook the porridge
- Fill a pot with 3.6 liters of water. Bring it to boil.
- Add the marinated pork (after blanching) to the porridge.
- Add the frozen rice into the boiling water over high heat. Keep the water boiling vigorously and stir continuously for about ten minutes.
- Add half of the ginger, century egg, and the salted egg pieces.
- Reduce to low heat and simmer until the rice grains breaking up and the texture of the porridge becomes smooth and silky.
- Remove the pork. Shred the pork into small pieces.
- Place the lettuce at the bottom of the bowl.
- Ladle the boiling porridge over the lettuce.
- Place the shredded pork, ginger, marinated scallion, salted egg, century egg on the porridge.
- Add a dash of ground white pepper and a few drops of sesame oil. Serve
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Serving Size:4 servings
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 518 Total Fat: 25g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 307mg Sodium: 5617mg Carbohydrates: 25g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 1g Protein: 47g