In Asia where rice is a staple, congee is a dish found in just about every cuisine. But how congee is cooked and served differ from culture to culture and region to region. Some people cook the rice in water until the mixture is almost a paste. Others prefer a thin soup. Even the kind of rice used, whether sticky or not, varies. In short, there is no singular way to cook congee.
In terms of how congee is served, however, there seems to be only two. The congee in a bowl with an assortment of meat, seafood and vegetables on the side or everything inside the bowl — congee with meat, seafood and vegetables on top. Personally, I have no real preference whether the everything is served on the side or inside the bowl. But I want the everything to be generous, of varying textures and quite meaty.
The everything can be anything. If you think of congee as a neutral base, there really is no rule as to what can go with it. The meat or seafood can be plain boiled or grilled. Add interesting textures, colors and shapes with ingredients like fried tofu skin and mushrooms. Want contrast in flavor? Try slices of Chinese sausage. And, to make a bowl of congee really filling, a whole egg which can be cracked straight into the hot congee or pre-boiled with the yolk fully cooked or still runny.
And then there are the little extras that really perk up a bowl of congee. Toasted garlic. Crisp onion slices. Thinly sliced scallions. Cilantro. And, if that’s not enough flavor and aroma, squeeze half a kalamansi or a wedge of lime into the bowl of congee and drizzle with a little patis (fish sauce).
For Filipino style congee, or lugaw as we call it, see the following: