How to make congee in a rice cooker

Congee (rice porridge) is my go-to food when I’m ill. But because I’m feeling ill, I didn’t want to make congee the traditional way, cooking it on the stove and stirring it by hand for hours. I wanted to make congee in a rice cooker.

All the recipes I found online used the wrong proportion of rice to water. Typically, congee is made with 1 part rice to ten parts water. But the rice-cooker congee recipes I saw gave proportions more like 1 to 4 or 1 to 5. That doesn’t really make congee, it just makes sloppy rice.

So here’s what I did:

For a one-quart rice cooker, start with half a cup of rice.

Wash the rice to remove as much rice starch as possible. Pour some water in, and use your fingers to massage the rice until the water turns cloudy. Dump out the cloudy water. Repeat until the water runs clear, about 6-9 changes of water. (If you don’t wash the rice, you’ll wind up with a glutinous mass, which is not congee.)

After the rice is washed, add a cup and a half of water. (I know this is only a 1 to 3 proportion, but wait!) Turn the rice cooker on.

When the rice cooker shuts off, leave it on the “warming” setting. Boil a cup and a half of water, and add it to the rice cooker. Stir well. You’re now at a 1 to 6 proportion.

After an hour on the “warming” setting, the rice should absorb a lot more water, and the mix will now be fairly stiff. Boil another cup of water, and add it to the rice cooker. Stir well. That’s a 1 to 8 ratio, which seems to be about right for my rice cooker. Yours may vary, and you can add a little more water if you prefer a thinner consistency. Be careful, though. When I make congee in a rice cooker, it seems to require less water.

A rice cooker with congee in it.
Here’s my rice cooker, showing the consistency of my congee.

Lunar New Year

We were in San Francisco this evening, and headed into Chinatown for dinner. We had forgotten that the Lunar New Year celebrations are still going on.

Walking down Grant Street, we ran into some dragons who guarded by men wearing bright yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the name of a local kung fu studio, and who were surrounded by tourists with cameras and cellphones. Someone set off lots of firecrackers; the smoke filled the street.

There’s a Chinese diner we like on Washington Street, and we went there to get some congee. But even there we unwittingly came across new year activities. Several tables at the diner were taken up with contestants for the Miss Chinatown pageant.

Thanks to Carol for this photo.