You can make congee, a highly adaptable rice porridge served throughout Asia, in large batches and freeze it for later use. Also called jook, this creamy porridge is a classic comfort food and typically contains meats or vegetables for added flavor and texture. Seasoned simply, the one-pot meal is a convenience food you can easily have on hand when you make a large batch and freeze some for later.
Congee is a versatile meal that can be a vehicle to make use of leftovers, a quick dish on a busy night or a special celebration food. Cook for more than an hour to soften the grains of rice completely, then season congee with a variety of spices and flavorings such as soy sauce, preserved vegetables, white pepper, salt or hot black bean sauce. Traditionally, congee uses glutinous or short-grained rice to create a porridge with few discernible rice kernels, but it also can use long-grained or jasmine rice for a thinner porridge with rice kernels remaining intact.
Cool congee completely in rigid, shallow containers to hasten the cooling process before freezing. Use storage containers with air-tight lids to prevent freezer burn. Freeze congee for up to three months for the best quality. While meat congee freezes exceedingly well, avoid freezing congee with lots of vegetables that will become soggy when thawed. Instead, freeze congee before adding vegetables and mix these in during reheating.
To serve, thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight, use your microwave's defrost setting to thaw or run the container under cold water until thawed. Heat the congee in a pan, stirring frequently to avoid scorching and until its temperature registers at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured using an instant-read thermometer. Add preserved vegetables, soy sauce or spring onions to further season the congee after reheating. If the congee becomes too thick during reheating, add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out and give it the consistency you prefer.
Congee Tips and Ideas
Congee lets you use leftover meats and works exceedingly well with turkey and ham. Dice leftover meats and add them to the congee at the beginning of cooking for a well-flavored porridge. For even more flavor, add a ham bone or turkey carcass to the porridge and simmer the congee for up to 3 hours to lock in some serious flavor. Add shiitake mushrooms, spring onions, water chestnuts and other vegetables with varying textures to add another dynamic to the simple porridge.