The rice is right

When is gentrification a good thing? When it happens to gruel, that’s when.

​Congee is comfort food. A traditional Asian rice porridge, or to be Victorian about it, gruel, congee is a nourishing, reassuring and inexpensive dish that has been a go-to in households across Asia for thousands of years. It has also, of late, become a hipster thing, with a spate of consciously-cool congee cafes opening up in New York City, and congee popping up in endless permutations on the menus of some of Auckland’s trendier eateries.

With winter on the horizon, we fancied a bit of congee comfort ourselves. The My Food Bag team obliged, sharing this recipe Malaysian Coconut Chicken Congee from their Winter Comfort series, inspired by our fav celebrity chef Nadia Lim.

Malaysian Coconut Chicken Congee with Green Herb Salad

Serves 4 | Ready in 45 minutes



600g chicken breasts

1 stick lemongrass, cut in half

1 tbsp ginger, minced

1 tsp turmeric powder

2-3 makrut lime leaves

3 cup chicken stock

3 cup boiling water 

300g jasmine rice    

1 tsp salt      

200g coconut cream  


2 baby bok choy, thinly sliced

30g Thai herbs (mint, coriander, Vietnamese mint Thai basil), roughly chopped

1 lime, juiced

200g mung bean sprouts    

200g julienned carrot 

2 tsp fish sauce        

1 pinch of chilli flakes (optional)


Before you start                    

Bring a kettle to the boil.    

Prep & cook chicken            

Pat chicken dry and cut into steaks. Place your hand flat on top of chicken and slice through horizontally. Cut lemongrass in half and mince ginger. Add chicken to a pot along with lemongrass, ginger, turmeric powder, makrut leaves, stock and boiling water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil on medium heat.

Once boiling, turn off heat and leave, still covered, about 15 minutes. The residual heat will cook chicken through. Cut into your chicken at the thickest point to make sure it is cooked.

Meanwhile, make salad                   

Thinly slice bok choy, roughly chop Thai herbs and juice lime. Toss all with mung beans, julienned carrot, fish sauce and chilli flakes (optional) in a bowl. Season to taste with fish sauce.                  

Cook congee            

Once chicken is cooked, set aside to rest. Remove lemongrass and makrut leaves from poaching liquid, return pot to high heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add rice. Reduce heat to low-medium, cover and gently simmer for 15-18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender. Add a splash of water if congee becomes too dry.         

Finish congee           

Using two forks, roughly shred chicken or thinly slice. Add to pot along with coconut cream and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until warmed through and thickened. Season to taste with salt.         


Invite all your hipster friends over and bask in their approval as you spoon the fragrant congee into bowls. Serve salad on the side.