Congee, or rice porridge, is a dish that I grew up with. It is not difficult to cook a pot of silky smooth congee with common ingredients such as beef or pork slices or minced pork, century eggs, fish slices, shrimps, crab, cuttlefish…and the list goes on. The main ingredient is of course the rice itself. Depending on whether ones like it slurpy smooth like a thick soup, or grainy like cooked rice in soup, there are no rules in making a good bowl of congee. As for me, I like it some where in between – fragrant and smooth but with visible broken rice grains.
For the rice, I tend to go either for the Thai Jasmine variety or the Calrose medium grain rice, which is used for making sushi due to its sticky texture. To speed up the cooking process, I would either soak the rice grains for an hour or two or cook them as usual in an automatic rice cooker, before turning it into rice porridge. When cooking congee or porridge, make sure that there is plenty of water in the pot, and care has to be taken to ensure that the contents and froth do not spill out when it boils. Occasional stirring with a ladle or spatula when the rice is simmering will help prevent the rice from clumping together and sticking to the pot; stirring also helps to break up the rice grains into a smoother blend.
Once the rice is well cooked into a porridge-like consistency, you can then start to add the various ingredients and condiments such as salt, white pepper, light soy sauce, sesame oil or fried shallots. Most ingredients cook rather quickly in a hot pot of rice porridge, so be careful not to overcook them.
For my recipe today, I’m sharing the tasty Crab Rice Congee. Crabs go really well with porridge, and any variety will do. Do make sure you buy the freshest crabs and thoroughly clean them since you would be cooking the crabs, shell on, in the rice porridge. You may also want to use a mallet to knock some cracks into some parts of the crab shell prior to cooking them; they cook better that way and for the sweet crab juice flow into the rice porridge. The tantalizing flavors from the crab will infuse itself into the rice porridge, thereby flavoring the ultimate dish of slurpy crab congee. I also added pumpkin for the color, sweetness and nutrition, but you make omit this if you like to keep it plain and simple.
You should be able to get the ingredients for my recipe of Crab Rice Congee from most supermarkets or Asian grocers. Alternatively, head down to my favorite Asian Market is HMART where I typically find the freshest ingredients at great prices!
Slurpy and Smooth Crab Rice Congee
- 0.5 lbs / 240 g Calrose rice, soaked overnight in plain water or cooked as rice
- 1.3 lbs / 600 g Crabs, shell on and cleaned (about 2-3 average sized crabs)
- (optional) 0.5 lbs / 240g pumpkin, roughly cut into chunks
- 2 pints / 1,000 ml of homemade or ready-made clear chicken stock
- 2 pints / 1,000 ml of water
- 1 thumb-sized ginger, finely shredded
- 1 stalk of spring onions, cut into small rings
- Salt, white pepper powder, sesame oil or shallots to taste.
- In a large pot, add in the rice, pumpkin and the chicken stock and water. Bring the mixture to boil and stir occasionally.
- Lower the heat and let the rice porridge simmer, stirring occasionally with a spatula or ladle to break up any clumps and prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Stirring also helps to break up the rice grains into a smoother blend.
- When the rice porridge is cooked to the desired level of “doneness”, place the crab into the pot, along with fine ginger shreds. Let the mixture boil for another 15 to 20 minutes till the crab is cooked.
- Add salt, pepper and oil to taste.
- Sprinkle some spring onions over the congee and serve while it is hot! (And be prepared for a messy, shell cracking but finger-licking yummylicious meal!)