Congee is to Chinese food what chicken soup is to American fare. It is usually a prescription for when one gets sick or when one needs something easy and clean to go down the stomach. Congee is predominantly eaten for breakfast, usually with fried dough and maybe some soy milk on the side. For richer types of congee meat like chicken or minced pork is added. The infamous thousand year old egg is a classic in congee as well.

I’ll be making a vegan pork and kimchi congee, which is definitely not a traditional flavor. I use mushroom stock to enrich the porridge. If you’re looking for a cleaner taste, then just use water.

A big secret my mom passed down to me is if you are into silky smooth congee, soak the rice overnight. It softens up the grain and it breaks apart easier when it is cooking. Now if you’re like me and is someone who likes grit and grind in their food, then maybe don’t soak it or cook it as long.

I also have the addition of bean curd skin, which is a somewhat traditional ingredient added to congee to add additional silkiness to the porridge because the bean curd skins break apart.

We use a simple vegetable broth for the soup base, but traditional wonton soup is a made with a mix of savory meats like pork and chicken bones and a fresh seafood flavor brought with dried flounder meat. Because soup is added to a mix of soy sauce and sesame oil before the noodles are served, I personally feel the addition of vegetable broth provides a flavorful enough addition.

Finally, we go to the noodles. It is quite hard to find a vegan substitute to good wonton noodles. I think the noodles are as big of a part to wonton noodles as the wontons themselves because the taste and texture is so unique. Wonton noodles are made with eggs and the really good ones are made from duck eggs to give an added richness. In addition, potassium carbonate is added to the noodles to give them a basic, alkaline flavor. Furthermore, the noodles are continuously kneaded to work the wheat gluten and give the noodles that perfect amount of snap when eaten.

Vegan Pork and Kimchi Congee

(Makes 2 bowls)

  • 1/3 cup rice, soaked overnight in 1 cup water
  • 3 cups mushroom stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons tofu skins, broken into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons textured vegetable protein (TVP), rehydrated with 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon light olive oil
  • pinch garlic powder
  • pinch onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon light soy sauce, more for plating
  • 2 tablespoons vegan kimchi
  • salt to taste
  • 1 stalk scallion, for garnish

Directions

  1. Drain off some water from the rice and add it to a pot. Pour in mushroom stock and add tofu skin. Bring to a bowl. Lower heat to medium low and cook until rice is broken up and smooth, about 1 hour. Add salt to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare TVP by mixing it with light olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder and soy sauce. Set aside.
  3. To serve, spoon hot congee into a bowl. Add in kimchi and TVP. Garnish with scallions.