Have you ever found yourself craving the comforts of a hot, steaming bowl of congee?
Congee, in its many forms, has been a constant presence in my life. I’d eat it with mahu (read: pork floss) when I was sick, I’d have it for breakfast as the Filipino arroz caldo with chicken and a spoonful of crunchy garlic, or I’d order it as an easy takeout snack with some tasty century eggs.
Basically, depending on your mood, preferences, and creativity, congee can be eaten in so many uniquely delicious ways. For those looking to be inspired, check out our recommendations on which delectable toppings to add to the versatile dish here:
1. Pork Floss
Raise your hand if you can find a jar of pork floss in your kitchen! Based on the warm memories of many a Chinese kid, congee with pork floss — or mahu, as we call it in Hokkien — is the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and mild. Easy to make and easy to digest, it’s no wonder that many Chinoys consider this to be the go-to comfort dish for a sick day.
2. Soy Sauce, Vinegar, and Chili Oil
If you’re looking for stronger flavors in your congee bowl, then a dash of condiments like soy sauce, vinegar, or chili oil is one easy fix. Don’t be afraid — add as much or as little as your heart desires!
3. Deep-Fried Garlic and Scallions
Have you ever gone to a Filipino-style breakfast buffet serving congee? Yup, deep-fried garlic and scallions are congee must-haves for good reason! Not only do these toppings add a burst of flavor into your bowl, they’re also great for diversifying texture and adding in that addictively subtle crunch.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Yes, we know. Sometimes, scooping up some rice goop can be quite boring. But like we said, there are more than a handful of ideas that can elevate the dish. Adding some protein into your congee, for example, would undoubtedly make for a more balanced meal — and what easier way to do so than with some good old-fashioned hard-boiled eggs!
5. Salted Duck Eggs
No, salted duck eggs aren’t just a food fad — they’re a classic congee topping! We know what we said in the previous number of this list, but instead of normal hard-boiled chicken eggs, why not make use of the bolder flavors of some salted duck eggs? You don’t get only the protein but also twice the flavor!
6. Century Eggs
Are we overloading this list with too many eggs? Truth be told, there is nothing that pairs better with congee than the silky richness of a century egg. (For those curious, a century egg derives its strong savory flavor from being preserved for weeks underground!) Don’t believe us? Why not try it out yourself!
Of course, those wanting real meat in their bowls don’t need to deprive themselves. After all, chicken is a common congee topping not only in China but also in the Philippines! Literally meaning “warm rice,” arroz caldo has long established itself as a comfortingly flavorsome dish on the Filipino table. That said, there shouldn’t be any reason for why it can’t be a part of yours too.
There’s no making a congee list without youtiao! Although this popular deep-fried bread stick has often been called the Chinese churro, Filipinos would probably liken it more to a sugar-free bicho-bicho or shakoy. Traditionally, youtiao is paired with a bowl of congee for a light and typical Chinese breakfast.
We know that kimchi is a Korean side dish, but trust us on this! If you want to give your congee some life, then the sour tang and heat that the kimchi offers will definitely serve you well.
10. Goji Berries
Maybe you want to add a little sweet something to your congee? Light and refreshingly tart, goji berries add the perfect amount of zing to your taste buds in the morning; but if flavor isn’t incentive enough, these tiny fruits are also amazingly jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamins that help boost the immune system! What a superfood!