Thai Coconut Congee, so what is it? Essentially it is a rice porridge made by boiling rice in a great deal of water or stock until it breaks down into a pudding-like consistency. It’s a classic Chinese breakfast dish. It’s also a staple in many other countries, including Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, and even parts of Europe.
There are certain days that call for something spicy. For me it’s a Friday, marking the start of the weekend. Another good reason, it’s jolly cold outside at the moment. A hearty bowl of Jasmine rice cooked in stock, coconut milk, Thai red curry paste and vegetables definitely fits the bill.
The important addition here is the Thai red curry paste, a blend of flavourful ingredients that makes or breaks the congee. Confession time, I don’t always make my own. If I’m able to obtain all the ingredients, I make a batch and pop it in the freezer. If not, there are several really good Thai paste brands available to buy. *Please do take into account, if you’re vegan or vegetarian, they will most likely contain shrimp paste.
Suited to vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Gluten free too. Just add vegetables, chicken or seafood accordingly. Once you’ve assembled all the ingredients, it’s incredibly quick and simple to prepare. A Congee is also all about the toppings. How you build your’s is up to you, enjoy!
Thai Coconut Congee
Thai red curry paste
- 4-6 dried red chillies depending on how much spice you like
- 2 red chillies deseeded and chopped
- 50 g galangal or ginger peeled & chopped
- 2 lemongrass outer skin removed & chopped
- 2 shallots chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 Tbls coriander stems from a small bunch chopped
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 Tbls lime zest
- 1 Tbls paprika
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp shrimp paste or fish sauce use miso if vegan or veggie
- 1 tsp honey
- 225 g Jasmine Rice
- 1.5 Litres chicken or vegetable stock
- 400 ml coconut milk full fat
- 4 large clove garlic peeled & sliced
- 3 Tbls sunflower oil
- 2 red chillies, mild deseeded and chopped
- 3 cm piece fresh ginger peeled & cut into julienne
- 8 kaffir lime leaves
- 4-5 Tbls naam pla (fish sauce) use soya sauce if vegan or veggie
- 2 tsp honey use sugar if vegan
- 16 cherry tomatoes
- 1 bunch Thai sweet basil or ordinary European basil
- 2 Tbls toasted unsalted peanuts, crushed
- 2 Tbls Thai red curry paste or according to taste
- 1 Lime
- 4 skinned chicken thighs
To make the Thai red curry paste
- Place the chopped chillies in a bowl and pour over 100ml boiling water. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Drain, but keep the chilli water.
- Tip the cumin and coriander seeds into a small pan and toast until fragrant. Put the chillies and spices into a food processor with the remaining ingredients and pulse until relatively smooth, adding some of the chilli water to help blend into a purée. The paste will keep in an airtight jar, in the fridge, for a month, alternatively you can portion into an ice-cube tray and freeze. You'll only need 2 tablespoons for this recipe.
Thai Coconut Congee
- Begin with the chicken, if using, poach in the chicken stock for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove and set to one side. Check you still have 1.5 litres of stock, if not top up with water.
- Next the rice. Do not rinse, just place in the stock and simmer for 15 minutes, leave it to swell in the stock – don’t drain.
- In a wok or deep pan, fry the sliced garlic in the oil until it just begins to colour. Remove two thirds of the slices and set to one side. Add the curry paste and the chopped chillies to the wok or pan and gently cook for a minute. Add the coconut milk, 600ml water, half the lime leaves, fish sauce and honey. Bubble for approximately 5 minutes.
- Next, shred the chicken. Add the tomatoes to the congee with the rice, some of the stock, and gently cook for about 2-3 minutes, add more stock if the rice swells too much. Finally the chicken, basil leaves and prepared ginger .
- Serve in bowls, topped with the reserved garlic, crushed peanuts, the remaining lime leaves and a wedge of lime.
- Toppings to try; sliced spring onions, roasted tamari seeds, steamed spinach, sugar snap peas, mange-tout, broccoli, sweet red peppers, French beans, cooked prawns, white fish, shredded pork shoulder.