Chinese congee is the ultimate comfort food for many. A versatile food, it is a blank canvas where almost any ingredient can be added to create different flavours and textures. In this Chinese congee recipe, dried scallops are added to the rice porridge in a thermal cooker to create a rich, flavorful broth.
Congee or jook is rice cooked with lots of liquid until it forms a consistency to suit your taste. I usually use my thermal cooker for soups and desserts. Then I discovered that it could also make the most delicious congee.
It tastes just like those cooked on a stove top, but with a shorter cooking time.
If you often cook congee using a conventional pot, you’ll know it is necessary to stir from the bottom of the pot every now and then throughout the cooking process to prevent the congee from sticking to the bottom.
With a thermal cooker, you won’t need to stir at all once the inner pot is transferred to the outer container. Less work and hassle so you’ll have more time for other things.
Usually, I’ll use homemade chicken stock to flavor a congee but today I added some dried scallops and the congee turned out naturally sweet and tasty. Dried scallops are expensive but in my opinion, they’re worth it. With the right amount of dried scallops and water, you won’t need any kind of stock to flavor the congee.
These little flavor bombs will infuse the congee with a savory and ocean-y like flavor. Be sure to soak them first before cooking to soften them. Don’t toss away the soaking water as you can use it to enhance the flavor of the congee.
If you have never tried dried scallops before, I do recommend that you start with smaller dried scallops like these as they are milder in taste. They’re also much cheaper compared to the larger ones.
Dried scallops are sold at dried goods stalls in Asian markets and Chinese medical shops and also on Amazon. Keep them refrigerated to prolong their shelf-life. My mother used to keep her dried scallops in the freezer for years and they never seem to go bad. I love using them (usually the large ones) for cooking Chinese soups as they add such amazing flavor and depth to any dish you add them to.
Cooking Congee with a Thermal Cooker
Place all your ingredients into the thermal cooker’s inner pot. Cover and bring it to a boil on a stovetop. This took me about 5 minutes.
Once the water is brought to a boil, cook the congee over medium heat with the lid partially open. This way, the water will not overflow and create a mess on the stove. Stir every now and then to loosen the rice and prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
After 20 minutes of cooking, place the inner pot carefully into the outer container. Close the lid and leave it inside for about 2 hours.
After 2 hours of “cooking” in the thermal cooker, this is what the chicken congee looked like. Don’t fret if it appears goopy. This is because congee will continue to thicken the longer it stands. Just stir the congee and it will smoothen out.
Remove the chicken legs from the pot. The meat is now fall-off-the-bone tender. Shred the chicken to small pieces. Most people would chuck the bones but I usually save them in the freezer along with other chicken bone parts and vegetables to make homemade chicken stock. Waste nothing.
Add 3/4 of the shredded chicken back into the thermal cooker. Save the rest to put on top of your congee.
If the texture of the congee is too thick for you, thin with some hot water and stir till it is to your preferred consistency. (I would suggest that you taste the congee first before adding any water). Season with salt if required.
How much water to use when cooking congee?
It really depends on your personal preference. There’s no right or wrong. Some people like their congee with a thick consistency while others prefer a thinner jook. For me, I like my congee to be more watery only when I’m feeling unwell as it will be easier to swallow.
If you want the congee to be steaming hot, take out the inner pot and re-heat the congee on the stove top.
Have you made congee with a thermal cooker before? Share with us your experience!
If you have a question or comment, I would love to hear from you. Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ to keep up to date with all the latest happenings on Souper Diaries.
- 1 rice cup of rice (150 g)
- 5 cups water (see notes)
- 2 chicken legs (skin and fat removed)
- 50 gm small dried scallops - soaked in 1 cup water and reserve soaking water (see notes)
- 10 gm of ginger - cut into slices
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp fried shallot oil (or use cooking oil)
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 stalks spring onions - chopped
- 40 g ginger - julienned
- 3 tbsp fried shallots
- Wash and rinse the rice in the thermal cooker's inner pot. Repeat till the water runs clear. Drain away the water. Add oil and salt to the rice. Mix well and set aside for about 10 minutes or longer if you have time.
- Shred the soaked dried scallops by hand into small pieces. Add the shredded dried scallops, ginger pieces and chicken legs into the inner pot. Add water and the liquid that you soaked the scallops.
- Bring the contents to a boil with lid closed. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium. Cook on the stove-top for 20 minutes with the lid partially open or the water will foam and overflow. Stir every now and then to loosen the rice and prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Put the lid back on. Transfer the pot into the thermal cooker's outer container. Close the outer lid and leave it there for about 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, remove the chicken legs and shred the meat into small slices. Add them back to the congee and save some to put on top of the congee. Stir the congee and add some hot boiling water if you find it too thick.
- Taste the congee and season with salt as required. Garnish with spring onions, ginger and fried shallots and serve hot.
2. Take out the inner pot and re-heat on the stove top if you want the congee to be steaming hot.
3. If you're using a 'normal' pot, just cook the congee all the way on a stove top. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Mmmm, yummy! I love congee.
This comes at just the right time for me to try a brand new healthy and wholesome recipe for the family!
Thanks Yvonne! By the way, just love the layout and style of your site – it’s very welcoming and pleasant!
Very cool! Looks delicious. I definitely want to try this. Wish I had a thermal cooker. You make it look so easy cooking this and I love how you provide us with every specific detail on how to make this great meal. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Well, I wish I had a thermal cooker! I guess I’ll just have to make this over the stove top. But I am super excited to try cooking with dried scallops. I’ve never used them before, and they certainly sound like something I would like!
Yes, you can definitely cook this on a stove top. Just remember to stir the congee from time to time. 🙂
That looks delicious. I think a baby can cook this with your instructions. You seem to be a chef or something. Are you a professional chef or do you just enjoy cooking? Thanks for the recipe.
I try to make my instructions easy to follow as much as possible. I’m someone who enjoys cooking and sharing recipes, and not a professional chef. Thanks for writing in! 🙂
Omg that looks so good! Thanks for taking the time to take all the pictures of the process.
Great instructions/recipes. Since I am living by myself, self-cook to be much more cost-efficient compared to buying outside. Do you only just do more towards Chinese recipes?
Yes, my site is mostly about Chinese food recipes.
Wow this looks so good. I like that you only spend a short time in the kitchen actually cooking. This would help me a lot. Would you say it taste a lot better with the thermal cooker than normal pot?
Thanks for sharing I want to try it out!
There’s no difference in terms of taste. The biggest difference is, you’ll only have to spend a short amount of time cooking and yet be able to achieve the same results. No more slaving over the stove top cooking and stirring the congee.
This looks excellent! I have a thermal cooker, and I am always looking to test out new recipes. Coincidentally, I just purchased some dry scallops the other day. Looking forward to testing this out!
Loved your site and the recipe very well put together content is very informative thumbs up on ur site