Rice Congee with Meatballs

I grew up calling this dish 'porridge' but realised soon after I came to Australia that porridge, to Aussies, means oatmeal! So congee it was from then on :).

It is winter in Melbourne now. It is freezing! And there is nothing more wonderful than to have a large bowl of piping hot, fragrant, yummy, tummy warming congee.

I make this only during cold weather, or when one of us is under the weather. It is such a versatile one pot dish and can be simply made up with normal/staple ingredients that I usually have on hand. And I always make a LARGE pot as one bowl is never enough.

Congee can be thick, or it can be slightly watery. Using different amounts and types of rice will also produce different results, for example short grain rice will give a thicker, starchier congee, while Basmati rice will produce a thinner congee. It can be cooked plain (like steamed rice) and served with a variety of side dishes that will provide the flavours. Or it can be cooked, like I have, with flavours in it by making/using meat stock, and then served sprinkled lightly with garnish. Among the easiest garnishes to use are fried shallots, fried garlic, fresh coriander leaves, chopped spring onions, finely julienned fresh ginger, crispy fried anchovies (ikan bilis), hard boiled salted egg, or even roughly chopped Italian anchovies.  A former colleague (another transplated Malaysian) told me once, when she felt homesick, she liked to eat rice with a sprinkling of soy sauce and a couple pieces of Italian anchovies which reminds her of salted fish, which is a popular side dish with congee in Malaysia.

I made this yesterday when it was only 12C max in Melbourne. I used a few large pieces of roast pork bones (leftover from a Chinese roast suckling pig some friends had served for a dinner party recently), and added a handful of mussels I had in the freezer which came from a pack of marinara mix and hubby picked out all the mussels from the mix before he cooked with it as he "does not like mussels" lol.
Rice congee with minced pork balls, garnished with fried shallots

Rice Congee with Meatballs

Marinated pork mince ready for pot

  • 3 to 4 litres water
  • Carcass/legs/wings/neck etc from at least 2 or more roast chicken or ducks OR some roasted pork bones
  • 2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt
  • 1.5 to 2 cups rice (white or brown, short grain works best)
  • 4 carrots (diced)
Meat Balls
Large pot of congee ready to be served

  • 300 gms minced pork
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese wine
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon corn or potato flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  1. In a large pot, bring water, salt and bones to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes to make stock. Open pot lid a little to avoid stock boiling over.
  2. Meanwhile prepare the rest of ingredients.
  3. Combine all ingredients for meat balls, mix very well with a spoon until meat becomes a sticky/solid mixture. Set aside to marinate.
  4. Peel carrots and dice into smallish cubes.
  5. Wash/rinse rice until water runs clear.
  6. Going back to the stock, skim off any floating bits of fat. At this stage, you can choose to either leave the bones in stock or remove the bones before proceeding to the next step.
  7. Add washed rice and diced carrots to stock. Do not cover pot after rice has been added. Let stock come back to boiling, then simmer over medium low heat until rice breaks up, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. This should take approximately 20-30 minutes.
  8. When rice has broken up sufficiently to your preference, add marinated mince pork by holding bowl over the pot, and using a teaspoon/butter knife, scrape small balls/chunks directly into pot.  Let congee come back to boil and let boil for about 5 minutes to ensure pork is fully cooked.
  9. Taste congee and add some salt if required. Garnish with any of the suggested garnishes above. Serve hot.
Note: Congee can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the meat, adding pumpkin, potatoes, yam, etc.
Congee - flavoured with stock made from roast duck bones
Thick congee - shredded roast chicken flavour
Pork Congee - garnished with Italian anchovies :)