Breakfast- my favorite meal, but the one that perhaps lacks the most variety in my life. Historically after I moved out of the nest, I’ve had the habit of eating one thing religiously for months, without variation, only to one day ditch it completely, never to come back to it with the enthusiasm with which it was first consumed.
In law school I ate egg white omelets with ham and cheese every morning for like, two years. Oatmeal with Coffee Mate and walnuts followed from London times and continued for about 6 years. Seriously, though English muffins with peanut butter made an appearance now and then. Last summer, it was all about the smoothies. This past winter- back to toast, and lately ever since I made those spiced krispies, I cannot get enough of rice krispies in the morning. Throw in some fruit, pecans and a few chocolate chips and I find myself incandescently happy (exaggeration, but not really). Sure it’s the grown up weirdo sprouted rice krispies but I’m convinced this back to nature variety is the reason that I’m full from 8-1 every day.
Thinking long and hard about my current obsession of rice for breakfast, I looked East to China where this is not a novel concept. In fact, it’s a regular one, in the form of congee. Congee is sort of a savory rice porridge- a cross between chicken soup and really mushy rice pudding. Like chicken soup, it’s all kinds of flexible, often times flavored with scallions, ginger, some heat; ladies’ choice.
For my version, I opted for a sweet one, which I’m pretty sure is not authentic at all but I like to think I’m carrying with me authentic congee spirit. Reason is that I had a hard time convincing myself that chicken soup in the morning would be good (mom wholeheartedly disagreed when I told her my rationale). Anyway, mine truly is more of a rice pudding, done in the slow cooker until it’s the appropriate state of mush. You can make yours as liquidy as you prefer (by…adding more liquid), but I made mine barely just.
Flavored simply with sugar and fresh ginger, and topped with mandarin oranges and crunchy toasted almonds, my congee works for either breakfast or dessert. A twofer! The best kind of recipe.
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 TB fresh minced ginger
- cinnamon, to garnish
- Mandarin orange, to serve
- Toasted almonds, to serve
- Put the rice in the bowl of a slow cooker. Fill the bowl halfway with water to rinse. Using a spoon or your hands, stir and agitate the rice until the water begins to look cloudy and gray. Pour out the water, straining the rice with a colander or the edge of the bowl and your hand. Repeat two or three more times until the water stays clear.
- Add the milk, water, sugar and ginger.
- Cook on low (or, if your slow cooker only has one setting, whatever that is) for 4-5 hours. The longer you cook it, the more the rice will break down while cooking.
- Serve as you like, with extra milk, cinnamon, oranges and almonds.
- Want it soupier? Add more water or milk.
For more serving suggestions, check this out.
Written while jamming to T. Swift.