Congee is a traditional Chinese dish — with many variations around the world — that can be traced back at least as far as the Ming dynasty, when it was used to cure illness with the help of medicinal herbs. Today, it is often fed to infants and the elderly, and is the ultimate comfort food! It is to the Chinese as chicken soup is in the West and kitchari is in India, but comfort food as it is, it's also a perfect party dish if you are receiving. Just fancy it up with allll the toppings!


Think of congee as a kind of rice porridge that you can serve as thick or as thin as you like. I like it quite thick, but you can always add more water to it once it’s cooked if you're looking for a thinner texture. I love that you can simply dump in the ingredients, go straight to work and come home to a hot meal, or add everything to the slow cooker before bed and breakfast is ready when you wake. If you like how easy this chicken version is, try the Fig and Cinnamon Congee from my book East by West (pg 50-51) for a sweet variation.


Serves 5


  • 2 chicken legs or 3-4 chicken thighs (470g), skin removed and set aside

  • 7- 8 cups water (can also use chicken stock if you have it)

  • 1 cup white basmati rice

  • 3" piece ginger, thinly sliced (leave skin on if organic)

  • 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped

  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1 tbsp Chinese 5-spice

  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon/lime juice

To serve

  • lime wedges

  • 1 spring onion per serving, finely sliced

  • fresh coriander leaves, chopped

  • sliced jalapeño/pinch cayenne (I use Korean chilli flakes which are not too hot)

  • dash toasted sesame seeds

  • dash tamari/qualtiy soy sauce

  • optional: fish sauce


  1. Pop all the ingredients (except for the toppings) into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for eight hours.

  2. Remove the bones from the chicken pieces and break up the chicken, stirring it into the congee until creamy.

  3. Spoon into serving bowls and serve with an assortment of toppings for you and your guests to choose from.


Brown basmati can be used, but white is recommended if you are not well. Be sure to soak it overnight or for eight hours first, then rinse and drain before using in the slow cooker. The texture will not be quite as smooth as the white rice version and may need an extra hour or two to cook.