“Congee was food you ate while sick or when the cook was too lazy to make a meal,” he writes in his Lee Ho Fook cookbook for indie publisher Somekind Press. “I’ve since changed my stance on this humble rice meal and appreciate the simplicity of a subtle and nourishing bowl of congee.”
The dish is traditionally cooked plain with little to no seasoning and served with an array of accompaniments, from century eggs and Chinese doughnuts to pickles and salted condiments.
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That’s how Liong served it at Lawyers, Guns and Money, his short-lived Chinese cafe that was out to change the way Melbourne thought about breakfast, and the congee was one of the stars. Here he shares the original recipe he cooked at the eatery, and some suggestions for toppings.
Victor Liong’s congee
Preparation time: 20–35 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
30ml vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced
30g ginger, peeled and microplaned
100g koshihikihari rice, cooked
Over medium heat in a medium saucepan, heat oil, onions and salt until softened. Add ginger and water and bring to a boil.
Add the rice and cook slowly until the rice starts to break down. (“A cheat’s way that works really well when you’re as impatient as I am is to stick-blend the rice slightly to break the grains and speed this process up,” says Liong.)
Once the rice has simmered for a while, the starch will thicken the congee. This will take about an hour. Lower the heat and stir with a wooden spoon to stop it scorching.
If the congee is too thick, thin it with water. Season to taste. Add toppings of your choosing.
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