Sunday, February 5, 2012

Home cookin': Morning porridge

It's been ages since I've last had Xifan (稀飯) or Chinese porridge or congee. The recipe for the rice is pretty simple. Just cook the rice extra long with an abundant amounts of water. Water varies with how thick or watery you want it. Experiment. It's served with various condiments you can add to it. It varies from the Hong Kong version in the ingredients and the serving method. I love both, but since the Hong Kong version tends to have more meat involved, I prefer it for lunch or dinner better. So for a nice sunny weekend morning, it really brings back memories to have Taiwanese porridge (or so I think, probably handed down from some provence in China). Add some pickled pork, peanuts, chinese pickles, pickled bamboo shoots and tofu skin (not entirely sure) and we have a meal. There are other condiments too, but I don't want it to get out of hand. Served with piping hot congee fresh from the rice cooker. So good..i'm having flashbacks to when I would wake up Sunday mornings to xifan, right before we would scurry off to chinese school. My favorites was always the pickles and the pickled bamboo shoots and rousong 肉鬆 (pork floss). Which breakfast dish do you miss the most from childhood?


  1. Hi Brian,
    My children & I love Xifan. I usually serve it as you suggested above but, I also have some variations of making it that I like. I cook my xifan overnite in a rice cooker on a porridge setting. It is wonderful to wake up to the smell of fresh hot porridge, Mmmmm. Like you said, the amount of water determines whether the porridge is thick or soup like. By cooking it overnite the rice grain breaks down and melts into a delicious porridge that is thick, sticky, and not too soup like.

    Here are two of the variations that I have made before that are good. I add a handful of Red Dates (Hong Zao) 紅棗 to the pot as it cooks. The porridge changes to the color of the dates. When I serve it sometimes I put a small sprinkle of sugar on top. The red dates are healthy so a little sugar will keep it in balance. I don't serve the same condiments as I do with the white Xifan. I would be more likely to accompany this with tea quail eggs 茶叶鹌鹑蛋 as a side dish for protein.

    The second variation is also made by adding an ingredient to the pot as it cooks. The red, salty peanuts that are shown in your photo above are a great addition. You put them in while it cooks and the peanuts get tender and soft. The salt & savory flavors become part of the porridge and by cooking it in the porridge it takes away the crunch and they become part of the texture of the porridge.

    We love xifan too!

  2. Thanks. The red dates in there are a great spin on the traditional porridge. I'll try that next time.