Arguably one of my favorite scenes in this classic Disney Movie is the one where Mushu force-feeds a barely awake Mulan a smiley-faced bowl of breakfast porridge. As a kid, seeing her cheeks puff up as she ate was sure to garner a laugh. As a professional chef, it reminds me how quickly cooks have to eat if they want any sustenance before dinner service begins.
Until recently, I never really knew Mulan was eating in that seen aside from a bowl of white mush, with two fried egg eyes and a bacon smile. My first time ever making congee was in a restaurant, and it was only then that I understood how comforting the dish could be.
Mulan may not have done a great job of selling this dish to those who have never seen it, but it truly is a deliciously warm and comforting dish.
A History of Congee:
Congee is a rice porridge that can be served plain or garnished with loads of delicious toppings. Recipes date back 3,000 years ago, so the timeline definitely lines up when it’s featured in Mulan. In fact, her many ancestors probably enjoyed the dish as well.
Today, the dish is often cooked with bay leaves and other aromatic spices that permeate every soft grain of rice in the pot. A soft-boiled egg is a popular accompaniment to the dish, along with a variety of other garnishes. Be creative as you work through this dish with us!
Check out our video and recipe below:
If you have other spices or garnishes that you’d like to add while cooking, try them! Congee is such a versatile dish that you’d be hard-pressed to make the same dish twice.
Simple Rice Congee Recipe
- 1 cup long-grained jasmine rice Plain White Rice will do fine as well
- 8 cups broth chicken broth, vegetable broth, chicken bouillon and water etc.
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. salt
- In a large pot, bring stock, bay leaves, and salt to a boil. Lightly rinse rice, add it to the liquid and bring it back to a boil. Unlike other rice recipes, it's important not to wash this rice grain entirely, so that some starch remains to allow the dish to thicken.
- Reduce to medium heat and occasionally stir to release any rice from the bottom and sides of the pot. Stir until rice has thickened to desired consistency, roughly 10 minutes. The longer you cook it, the tighter and less soupy the rice porridge will be, so adjust time according to your preference.
- Allow the rice porridge to cool slightly before transferring it into a serving bowl. Garnish as desired with your choice of toppings.
What did you garnish your congee with? Inspire us in the comments!