20-Minute Ginger Congee

I will always be on board for simple, starchy comfort. Risotto, steel-cut oats, polenta laden with Parmesan… if it’s warming and clings to a spoon, I’m on board. Congee is starchy comfort at its best. It’s a rice porridge that’s most common in China, though you’ll find other versions in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and India. Congee is kind of magic: A small handful of rice simmered in lots of water transforms into something luxuriously creamy and filling.

The only problem? Congee takes a long time. Most recipes call to simmer a big batch for a few hours. I don’t have that kind of time, but a congee craving is a congee craving. So what’s a solo cook to do?

I found the answer by way of Nadiya Hussain’s Ginger Rice with Spiced Chickpeas. You’ve got to whisk it. By boiling the rice first, then whisking constantly for about 5 minutes, the grains broke down and became porridge in less than 20 minutes. Magic. It’s definitely not traditional, but it totally works in a pinch.

The best part is topping with whatever you have on hand—why this is one of my favorite “use it up” meals. I added leftover roast chicken, microwave-steamed snap peas and yellow squash, sliced radishes, and an extra scallion here. 

More topper ideas:
– Protein: Any cooked meat or fish, cubed tofu, or a soft-boiled egg
– Veggies: Any steamed veggies or thinly sliced cucumber and radishes
– Drizzles and sprinkles: soy sauce, chile-garlic sauce, sesame seeds, garlic chips, or crushed red pepper


20-Minute Ginger Congee

The consistency of your congee is really up to you. Let it simmer a little longer after whisking to thicken, or add a little more water if it feels too thick. Just don't skip the swirl of sesame oil or butter at the end—it's what makes the texture so luxurious.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 1 person


  • ¼ cup white rice
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil or butter
  • 1 small scallion, thinly sliced
  • Pinch kosher salt


  • Combine the ginger, rice, and water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes (the rice should be cooked through at this point).
  • Uncover and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes (the rice should start to break down and the water should turn milky white). Let simmer another 5 minutes, uncovered, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil, scallion, and salt.
  • Ladle congee into a wide bowl and top with the veggies, protein, and condiments of your choice.