This is an important post. You know why? Because this, like many other day to day moments in our lives, is important. All those moments that we have with ourselves or share with others– they matter. All those memories that we let slip us by because we’re too busy not paying attention. Those moments are important.

I’ve gone through phases where I was better and not great at documenting. Well, if I’m being honest, I think I was great before, but as time has slipped by, I’ve let those moments and opportunities to document slip me by too. Laziness? Complacency? Distraction? There are a million reasons (excuses) to not taking in the little moments that life shares with us and feeling gratitude.

On this day, Marlowe and I shared a simple moment together…. something new, but very easy: congee. A new dish creation to attempt to make and enjoy together. On this day, we made dinner together. What’s congee? Well, the simplest definition is that congee is boiled rice, a porridge. That’s it. Sometimes in a broth… and sometimes with a few things boiled in, but for the most part it’s just rice boiled in water. It’s not world-changing. It’s not complex. It’s often considered a lowly dish for people to make-do or make a better meal out of the few things they have.
Well, we had rice. A lot of it. Multiple cups of shattered, broken rice. For Thanksgiving this year our family opted to share a Caribbean inspired meal together. A Dominican meal if you want to be more detailed…. my stepmother is Dominican. Alex was put in charge of the rice and beans. And for whatever reason, just before cooking, we looked down to realize that our soaked rice was all shattered and broken.

Now, if you know me, you know that food wastes is one of my biggest pet peeves. And while Alex is too much of a perfectionist to used broken rice in his dish that night, there are a lot of recipes in the world that lend themselves to broken rice. So the day after Thanksgiving I made rice pudding— a comfort dish that I grew up eating with both my grandmas. Ideally, I would have opted to just make rice pudding with all the rice and freeze the leftovers. But I did not. I suggested congee to Marlowe. I’ve had it before, but she never has. But she was intrigued enough and we spent sometime after dinner searching the internet for videos o the perfect method.

Now, I don’t like rice. I know that it is a sin for any Colombian to admit. But I don’t. I could never eat another grain of rice ever again and be okay with this. I mean, I’d miss rice pudding, but I’d be fine. But Marlowe? Her love of rice is deeply embedded in her. And so, we decided, together, we would create a really amazing congee meal.

And we did. Together we stirred the pot of rice and water for a long, long time. We prepped some toppings. And Marlowe, like me, was super excited for something new, something out of our cooking normal and away from the typical day to day comfort meals.

She and I share a meal together every day. Just her and I. I cook the food, she prepares the table. But this day felt a bit more special. Maybe because we had broken the daily action of cooking something common to us and stepping away from daily habits. Maybe it was just the unusual chill in the air and something warm on the stove. I’m not sure, but it felt different. And so, on this day, I took out the camera and snapped a few photos. Nothing crazy. The sun was setting, it was dark, cold, and the day felt cozy with our big pot of boiled rice.

We’ll remember this day as the day we researched, prepped, and made congee together and Marlowe absolutely did not like it 😉 And I don’t blame her. Congee seems like such a dreamy idea, but the reality is a bit more… bland? It’s often seasoned with soy sauce, but Marlowe forgot the important bit of information that she doesn’t love plain soy sauce. She liked it slightly better with the coconut aminos. But overall, we can look back and say we spent a great time making congee together, but not so much eating it, haha.

I’m not mad or sad one bit. I’m grateful to share these moments with her. The ones that may seem idyllic, but then fall short of the dream. The ones that are simple, but real. These moments are important too.

Because this day and these moments, like every day and every moment is important. And this day was a good reminder of that fact.

Want to make a congee and try it out for yourself? Don’t be scared– it’s great if you love rice and soy sauce. But maybe skip this dish if you don’t 😉

How To Make Congee:

  • Heat a heavy bottom pot to medium heat.
  • Toss in *rice and stir
  • Add water (or broth) and cook until completely dissolved (stirring frequently so that it does not stick to the bottom)
  • Add more water again and cook until completely dissolved, stirring frequently.
  • Continue over and over again until rice is cooked, creamy, and porridge-like. Adding more or less water depending on the consistency you’d like.
  • Serve warm and add your favorite toppings.

*can be pre-cooked or un-cooked rice, whatever amount you have.

Suggested toppings:
  • Soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • scallion
  • seaweed
  • chopped greens
  • roasted mushrooms
  • kimchee
  • sesame seeds
  • roasted broccoli or other vegetables
  • cilantro
  • really anything else you would like.

That’s it. The congee itself is simple, it’s the toppings you put on top of it that really make the dish. I thought it was fine, but I mostly piled on kimchee. Marlowe slowly and painfully ate hers, each spoonful with a big bite of kale to mask… well everything else, haha.

Oh, and the next day we took the leftover congee and made these rice-cake like things to serve with soup.  We did this by mixing the porridge with cassava flour and salt. Whether this idea was a sucess or not is up for debate. They were really weird (the texture was slightly off), but Marlowe loved them. So sort of a second fail, sort of a win. Either way: a lot of fun.

Enjoy your time together. Enjoy preparing food and trying new things. Enjoy any little thing around you, because once the moment passes, it’s gone and will only exist in your mind… if you let it. It’ll quickly (and sadly) slip away if you’re not mindful and present in the moment.

I’d love to know if you love or hate congee. If you had it. If you plan to make it. And what you thought if you do make it 🙂 Cheers friends!

6 Comments

  1. I add miso dressing to mine instead of soy sauce, plus all the toppings; it adds a bit more zing to an otherwise bland dish. I usually make it with at least a bit of broth, too, and on the thicker side. This is a meal I make & eat throughout the week when I want to feel nourished with very little effort 🙂

    • oooh miso would be smart. Marlowe likes miso a lot. We don’t buy it anymore since I haven’t been eating soy as much and I can’t find non-soy versions here. But that sounds great. Or even a bit of miso broth. Maybe one day we’ll give it a go again with miso 🙂

  2. So Congee is almost like a Risotto but instead of broth you use water when cooking it?

    • Yes! And really, you don’t even have to watch it as much as risotto, you can just let it boil. But I think it’s pretty important to pay close watch so it doesn’t stick and burn cause that could ruin the whole pot. But yes, essentially Asian version of risotto, you can add in things just the same 🙂

  3. Did you do the kimchi? I never tried and would love to, but cant find it where i live **

  4. I actually just ate this for breakfast 😄 I didn’t grow up eating it but came across a random recipe from a cooking website last year. I love adding diced onion, shiitake, celery or carrot in the beginning with veggie broth instead of water, I squeeze fresh lemon at the end with fresh dill on top. I also make fried garlic chips with red pepper flakes and add it at the end. ♥️