Chicken Congee (鸡粥)

Learn how to make the ultimate Chinese comfort with Daddy Lau's soft & silky rice porridge recipe

Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
60 min
Yields
4 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

Congee / jook was one of my favorite things to eat growing up.

My parents used to make this for breakfast for me and my sister as we got ready for school, and they'd always have a week's worth of congee for us when we got sick.

The porridge with a thousand names

The word "congee" was derived from from the Tamil language of Ancient India, "kanji". In Cantonese, we call it "jūk" (which kinda sounds like "jook"), but there are many, many different variations and names for it across Asia.

Even though congee is commonly known as a rice porridge, it wasn't always the case. With thousands of years of history in China, congee was made with whatever grains were available locally: millet, cornmeal, barley, and etc.

Why we don't eat jook on Chinese New Year

Interestingly, in Chinese tradition, it’s considered a bad omen to eat jook on Chinese New Year. 

When I asked my parents about it, my mom explained that in the “old old days, many people didn't enough rice to eat. Using relatively small amounts of rice, they made big pots of congee to make their rice last longer.”

She said that, “the rich ate cooked rice, the poor ate jook.” and that congee is not a high class food.

But, my dad quickly chimed in: “This is not true - if cooked with high-class ingredients, porridge is a high-class meal.”

Congee for all

Historical accounts show that congee was enjoyed across all walks of life, from emperors to everyday people.

It's also an ideal food for babies - my mom started feeding us congee when we turned 1, and it's certainly something that we'll enjoy feeding our newborn son very soon!

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
4
    Main Ingredients
  • 1 rice cup white rice (

    a "rice cup" is about 3/4 of a standard US cup. Jasmine rice is preferred but any white rice will work!

    )
  • 12 oz chicken (

    use any amount you want

    )
  • 8 cups water
  • 0.50 oz ginger
  • 2 pieces green onion
  • cilantro (

    to taste

    )
  • Chicken Marinade
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 0.50 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Additional Flavor
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon

Finding Asian Ingredients

Some of these ingredients are hard to find in a typical grocery store.

If you don't live near an Asian market, most or all of what my dad uses in this recipe can be found on Amazon:

I've also included some other Chinese kitchen essentials, used in many of my dad's other recipes.

These links are affiliate links, which means that if you use our links to purchase these ingredients, Amazon pays my family a small amount for the sale - at no extra cost to you. If you use these links, we really appreciate the support!

Other Supplies + Tools

You'll need a whisk, which helps to break apart the rice, as you'll see later.

We'll start by washing our rice (1 rice cup) in a bowl:

  • Fill the bowl with some water
  • Massage and mix the rice around with your hands
  • Drain the water
  • My dad prefers to repeat this 3 times, for good measure

To save some time, we'll start boiling some water (8 cups) for later. For jook / congee recipes, the water-to-rice ratio is usually very high. In my dad's recipe, it's 8-to-1.

Then, we'll chop our ginger (0.50 oz) into thin slices, and then into thin strips. Chop a few strands of cilantro () and green onion (2 pieces) into small pieces.

Cut the chicken (12 oz) into thin slices and place it in a bowl to marinate.

Add oyster sauce (1 tbsp), cornstarch (2 tsp), chicken bouillon (0.50 tsp), and water (2 tbsp). Mix and massage the chicken and the marinade together for 30 seconds until there's no liquid left. Then, add vegetable oil (2 tbsp) to the bowl and mix it around with chopsticks for another 20-30 seconds.

The cornstarch helps glue the flavors to the chicken, and helps lock the juices inside the chicken. The oil helps prevent the chicken from clumping together, and also helps seal the juices inside the chicken as well.

Pro-tip: Before cutting, place a towel underneath your board to increase its stability, and decrease the chances that you'll accidentally cut yourself.

Pour the boiled water (8 cups) from earlier into a pot, set on high heat, and wait for the pot to boil before adding our rice. It's important not to add the rice before the pot starts boiling.

Once the pot (water only) is boiling, add the rice and stir it around a bit. Another important tip - don't stir the rice once the pot is boiling yet again, otherwise it will be more likely to stick to the bottom of the pot.

We'll cover the pot (water and rice) and wait until it's boiling again.

Once the pot is boiling again, we'll partially cover the pot and let it cook at medium heat for 25 minutes.

Depending on what "medium heat" is for your stove, you might need to cook it at medium heat for longer.

Even though this step is fairly passive, it's an important one. My dad explains that Cantonese people are very proud and particular about the quality of their "jūk dái", or the soup base.

Once we've hit 25 minutes, we can either proceed with this step or cook it for longer.

When my wife and I recreated this recipe using my dad's instructions, I had to cook it for another 10 minutes longer because my "medium heat" wasn't hot enough. Our grains of rice were still fairly solid. It really depends on your stove, and a bit of trial and error.

Anyway, if you're happy with where your rice is at, start whisking the pot rapidly and constantly for 2-3 minutes. This helps speed up our cooking time, and helps break down the rice into smaller, fluffier pieces.

If you don't have a whisk, you'll need to cook for another 10-20 minutes.

Set the stove to high heat, and slowly add the chicken over the course of 30 to 60 seconds, stirring constantly as you go. If you add it all at once, it will clump up.

Stir the chicken around for another 1-2 minutes. Once the pot is boiling again, it should be ready. We can also judge by looking at the chicken to make sure there are no raw spots left.

Almost there! Add the strips of ginger, as well as salt (1 tsp) and chicken bouillon (1 tsp). Stir everything around for 20-30 seconds.

Turn off the heat, and pour the jook into your favorite bowl. Garnish with the green onions and cilantro.

Call your loved ones over - it's time to eat!

Summary

Chicken Congee (鸡粥)
Learn how to make the ultimate Chinese comfort with Daddy Lau's soft & silky rice porridge recipe
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 60 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
    Main Ingredients
  • 1 rice cup white rice (

    a "rice cup" is about 3/4 of a standard US cup. Jasmine rice is preferred but any white rice will work!

    )
  • 12 oz chicken (

    use any amount you want

    )
  • 8 cups water
  • 0.50 oz ginger
  • 2 pieces green onion
  • cilantro (

    to taste

    )
  • Chicken Marinade
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 0.50 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Additional Flavor
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
Step 1 - Wash rice↑ Jump to details

Wash rice (1 rice cup) in a bowl:

  • Fill the bowl with some water
  • Massage and mix the rice around with your hands
  • Drain the water
  • Repeat this 3 times, for good measure
Step 2 - Boil water, chop veggies↑ Jump to details

Start boiling water (8 cups). Chop ginger (0.50 oz) into thin slices, and then into thin strips. Chop a few strands of cilantro () and green onion (2 pieces) into small pieces.

Step 3 - Prepare chicken↑ Jump to details

Cut the chicken (12 oz) into thin slices and place it in a bowl to marinate.

Add oyster sauce (1 tbsp), cornstarch (2 tsp), chicken bouillon (0.50 tsp), and water (2 tbsp). Mix and massage the chicken and the marinade together for 30 seconds until there's no liquid left. Then, add vegetable oil (2 tbsp) to the bowl and mix it around with chopsticks for another 20-30 seconds.

The cornstarch helps glue the flavors to the chicken, and helps lock the juices inside the chicken. The oil helps prevent the chicken from clumping together, and also helps seal the juices inside the chicken as well.

Pro-tip: Before cutting, place a towel underneath your board to increase its stability, and decrease the chances that you'll accidentally cut yourself.

Step 4 - Start boiling rice↑ Jump to details

Pour the boiled water (8 cups) from earlier into a pot, set on high heat, and wait for the pot to boil before adding our rice. It's important not to add the rice before the pot starts boiling.

Once the pot (water only) is boiling, add the rice and stir it around a bit. Another important tip - don't stir the rice once the pot is boiling yet again, otherwise it will be more likely to stick to the bottom of the pot.

We'll cover the pot (water and rice) and wait until it's boiling again.

Step 5 - Cover pot and wait↑ Jump to details

Once the pot is boiling again, we'll partially cover the pot and let it cook at medium heat for 25 minutes.

Depending on what "medium heat" is for your stove, you might need to cook it at medium heat for longer.

Even though this step is fairly passive, it's an important one. My dad explains that Cantonese people are very proud and particular about the quality of their "jūk dái", or the soup base.

Step 6 - Whisk rice↑ Jump to details

Once we've hit 25 minutes, we can either proceed with this step or cook it for longer.

When my wife and I recreated this recipe using my dad's instructions, I had to cook it for another 10 minutes longer because my "medium heat" wasn't hot enough. Our grains of rice were still fairly solid. It really depends on your stove, and a bit of trial and error.

Anyway, if you're happy with where your rice is at, start whisking the pot rapidly and constantly for 2-3 minutes. This helps speed up our cooking time, and helps break down the rice into smaller, fluffier pieces.

If you don't have a whisk, you'll need to cook for another 10-20 minutes.

Step 7 - Cook chicken↑ Jump to details

Set the stove to high heat, and slowly add the chicken over the course of 30 to 60 seconds, stirring constantly as you go. If you add it all at once, it will clump up.

Stir the chicken around for another 1-2 minutes. Once the pot is boiling again, it should be ready. We can also judge by looking at the chicken to make sure there are no raw spots left.

Step 8 - Add flavors, ginger↑ Jump to details

Almost there! Add the strips of ginger, as well as salt (1 tsp) and chicken bouillon (1 tsp). Stir everything around for 20-30 seconds.

Step 9 - Plate, garnish, enjoy!↑ Jump to details

Turn off the heat, and pour the jook into your favorite bowl. Garnish with the green onions and cilantro.

Call your loved ones over - it's time to eat!

Step 10 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 11 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

I have so many memories eating this dish growing up.

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to eat with us and learn more about the dish, Chinese culture, and hang out with our adorable son. We get into a lot of detail about how jook differs at restaurants and across China, and what life was like for my parents growing up in China.

Cheers, and thanks for cooking with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.

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About Made With Lau

We started Made With Lau to honor and share the legacy of our wonderful parents, Jenny and Chung Sun Lau.

Our hope is that these posts give you (and our future generations) a glimpse into how great they are!