Basic Vegan Congee (香菇素肉粥)

Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 10 Mins Cook Time: 2 Hr 30 Mins Total Time: 2 Hr 40 Mins

Congee is so comforting and always reminds me of grandparents and bleary-eyed breakfasts in China. It is not difficult at all to cook a vegan congee, but it does take an investment in time and water. My favourite rice to water ratio for congee is 1:15.

A good congee starts the night before, with the rinsing and soaking of the rice. Then it takes a good two hours or more of gentle boiling on the stove. Usually, if I don’t get too hangry, I try to cook my congee for four hours until the rice has pretty much disintegrated. But, in a pinch and with more vigorous stirring, two hours would be okay.

The benchmark of a good congee is how much the rice grains have broken down. Ideally, the congee should look like one congruous starchy water bed. An important step is to smoosh and rub the rice grains violently against each other in the marinating stage. You can also stir the congee more often to help the grains break down.

The secret ingredient of congee known to all Chinese families is the porcelain soup spoon. The porcelain soup spoons jiggle around the pot, helping to spread the heat evenly across the congee, and prevent sticking. If you don’t have porcelain soup spoons don’t worry too much about it, just stir more often.

Classic condiments to go with congee are fried shallots, fried garlic, thinly sliced ginger, spring onions, (vegan) scallops, some kind of “lean meat”, braised peanuts, fermented tofu, preserved vegetables, coriander, goji berries, and always serve with sesame oil, soy sauce, and white pepper. Choose your poison!

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0/15 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • Side Dishes


0/14 Instructions
  • Wash the rice the night before and soak it overnight in room temperature water.
  • In another bowl, soak dried mushrooms overnight in room temperature water.
  • Drain the rice. Marinate the rice with 0.5 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of peanut oil. Rub the rice grains with your hands in a rough crushing motion. Very good therapy!
  • Drain the mushrooms, keeping the mushroom water aside for later. Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and dice the mushrooms finely.
  • Boil 15 cups of water (including the mushroom water) in a large pot and add 3 porcelain spoons. If your pot is not big enough, you can start with half the water and add more every half an hour.
  • Add vegetable stock granules. Stir the congee every 20 minutes, making sure the rice does not stick to the bottom.
  • Cook the congee for at least 2 hours, until the rice is broken down into a starchy gruel that doesn't have well defined individual grains. Add salt to taste. While the congee is cooking, work on the side dishes.
  • Side Dishes
  • "Lean Meat" - Marinate OmniMeat with soy sauce, vegan oyster sauce, and white pepper. Pan fry quickly until cooked.
  • Fried Shallots - Chop the shallots and fry slowly until golden.
  • Fried "Scallops" - Sear the king oyster mushroom scallops on both sides until golden.
  • Ginger - Thinly slice ginger and soak in sesame oil.
  • Goji Berries - Soak goji berries in warm water until soft.
  • Spring Onions - Slice and serve raw.
  • Serve all side dishes in separate bowls so people can customise their congee with the toppings they like.


  1. Do you ever incorporate seaweed like nori, wakme, or kombu in congee?
    I’ve never tried congee before and love all the ingredients you have listed to flavor it, but wonder if adding some kind of seaweed could help add more depth to the rice/broth?
    Also, can you use other types of rice like black or brown rice? Or even oats?

    1. Hi Jessica, good questions! There are actually many different flavour combinations of traditional congee such as plain, mushroom, mince meat and century egg, fish, etc. In the traditional Cantonese style, people often do use dried scallops or dried shrimps in the base stock, so for the vegan version it is fine to use a kombu broth as a base. I also sometimes add miso after the congee is cooked, just for fun. This recipe is more of a plain mushroom version which is my preference for a congee, since it acts more as a palate cleanser so that the toppings will stand out more. Regarding the rice, if you want to be authentic then short-grain rice or millet is the best for congee. That said, if you are just making it for yourself then any type of grain is fine as long as you enjoy it!

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