Congee, a Chinese rice porridge, more commonly served on the savoury side, is made sweet. I make this honeyed congee in a similar fashion to family’s Danish risalamande (or rice pudding): with scant amounts of sweetener because there is always to be something on top, be that the honeycomb I’ve suggested, fresh berries lightly crushed between your fingers or loose jam. Congee of any variety can be served warm or chilled and both ways are life-giving.
As we enter the last breaths of winter, and with the popularity of hygge (you absolutely must read this charming, funny, so-right-on Shouts & Murmurs taking on hygge in The New Yorker) showing no signs of stopping, safe bowls of comforting, grounding grains are what I need.
Nourishing soups and stews, warming broths, baked winter vegetables that collapse by mere weight of a fork and endless cups of coffee and golden milk; I will get my fill of the preceding while I can, waiting, eagerly for asparagus, peas, ramps and morels to get in my kitchen already.
Let this congee recipe using season-less ingredients hold us over during the delicious tension of winter turning into spring. Stay warm, until you don’t have to.
More rice pudding recipes:
My Danish family rice pudding recipe, risalamande, a Scandinavian Christmastime dessert, can be found in my first cookbook, Whole Bowls.
A classic vanilla rice pudding attached to a a fun story about my late mom and the time Johnny Cash stayed at her house.
Tender apples and yogurt combine in my sweet brown rice risotto.
- 4 cups water, divided
- 1 cup unsweetened toasted coconut chips
- ¾ cup calrose rice or arborio rice
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- honeycomb or honey
- lightly smashed fresh berries or pitted cherries
- loose jam or marmalade
- plumped prunes or dates
- Add 2½ cups water and coconut to a blender. Let stand for 1 hour, up to 4 hours, to rehydrate. Meanwhile, cook the rice.
- In a large pot, bring remaining 1½ cups water and rice to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook, stirring a few times, for 25 minutes. Turn off heat.
- After soaking, blend coconut and water on high for 1 minute. Using a fine mesh sieve or nut milk bag, strain into cooked rice, pressing or squeezing gently to extract water from coconut. Discard coconut pulp or save for use in baked goods. Add honey and salt.
- Stirring constantly, bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, reduce to low and cook, stirring often for 15 to 20 minutes, or until thickened but still a touch loose. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve warm or chilled with honeycomb or other suggested toppings.