My family is Cantonese so I grew up with congee as a go-to comfort food.
Congee or “JOOK” (rhymes with book) in Cantonese is long grain rice cooked in plenty of water until it resembles a thick porridge. Also known as rice porridge, it can be served plain or stirred through or loaded with various toppings. Being notoriously squishy and easy to digest, it’s also a common baby food, or food for the sick or elderly. Eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 100% comfort.
I’m more than a little obsessed with American soul food. I don’t know why, but shrimp and grits is a fascination of mine even though I’ve never visited the US. Having eaten shrimp and grits in Wellington recently, I’ve had it in my mind to recreate something similar at home. Shrimp and grits was traditionally a breakfast dish but now eaten at other meal times as well.
I present to you: the lovechild of congee and shrimp grits!
“Shrimp grits” congee
- 1/2 cup long grain rice, rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 1 pat of butter
- 12 or so peeled prawns
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 3 slices fresh ginger, cut into batons
- 2 tablespoons sliced spring onion
- Optional: hot sauce to taste
- Coriander to garnish
- Place rice and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Turn down to medium and partially cover with lid so that steam can escape and it doesn’t boil over. Cook for 30-45 minutes until the consistency of a thick porridge. Stir every now and again to prevent grains sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add more water if the porridge is looking too thick. The congee is done when you can see that the individual rice grains have broken down into soft flakes. Season with salt, remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl.
- To make the topping, melt butter in a frying pan. Add the prawns, garlic, tomato, half the ginger, half the spring onion and fry for a few minutes prawns are cooked. Drizzle over your favourite hot sauce, stir to combine and remove from heat.
- Place on top of congee and garnish with the rest of the ginger, spring onion and fresh coriander. Season with salt and fresh black pepper.
Note: Spring onion = scallions, Coriander = cilantro
I love the combination of flavoursome topping and the super mild, clean congee base. This was one of those throw-together recipes that is probably quite forgiving. I already had all the ingredients lying around and you might too.
The recipe is for 1 portion because I whipped this up for my lunch. You do the math for more portions. I recommend starting the congee first before starting no the prep for the other ingredients. That way everything should be finished at the same time.