Turkey Brown Rice Congee is a wonderful way to use a leftover turkey carcass. It is humble comfort food.
Turkey congee is a tradition in many Chinese American households after Thanksgiving. Congee, also called “shi fan” in the Mandarin dialect or “jook” in the Cantonese dialect, is basically rice cooked in water or broth until the rice breaks down into a smooth, creamy consistency. Congee is not unique to the Chinese culture, however. There are versions of congee in the Korean (called Juk), Japanese (called okayu) and Vietnamese (called cháo) culture too.
Congee is a versatile food. It’s easy to eat and digest so it’s good for many people, from babies to the elderly. Congee is most often served for breakfast, but is also great for people who are sick and need nourishment. Recently, I made turkey congee for an elderly woman who was on a soft food/liquid diet. I wanted to give her a taste of Thanksgiving, so the roasted turkey bone soup base used to make turkey congee was the perfect flavor component.
How To Make Turkey Congee
Congee can be made on the stove, in a rice cooker (some rice cookers have a congee setting), or in a slow cooker. Congee can also be made with leftover rice or raw rice.
Typically, white rice is used to make congee, but I usually make it with a mixture of white glutinous (“sweet”) rice and medium grain brown rice. Glutinous rice, also called sweet rice adds creaminess and body to the congee. Cooking with brown rice takes a little longer than white rice.
Congee is most often just rice cooked with water. However, turkey congee has so much more flavor. Each Thanksgiving, as soon as the dishes are cleared from Thanksgiving dinner, I make a big pot of turkey stock by putting the entire turkey carcass in big pot. Sometimes I add carrots, celery, onion, bay leaf and peppercorns as aromatics). This stock cooks for several hours and then is strained. Rice is added to the turkey stock and cooked until the rice breaks down to a smooth, creamy consistency.
What To Serve With Congee
Traditionally, congee is served with an assortment of condiments, such thousand-year-old eggs (these are not really a thousand years old!), fermented bean curd, Chinese pickles (pickled cucumbers or radishes), Chinese braised wheat gluten, and pork or fish “floss” (you can find this at Asian grocery stores – seasoned dry-sauteed pork or fish). You can find many accompaniments to congee in the Asian grocery store.
A woman from Shanghai who lived with us a number of years ago used to make congee with ground pork and thousand-year-old eggs, a traditional Chinese congee.
Here, I show congee simply served with pickled radishes, fried shallots, cilantro and scallion. You could also just drizzle with a little sesame oil and fish sauce or soy sauce.
When Is Congee Eaten?
Congee is typically eaten at breakfast, although there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it throughout the day. In China, congee is fed to babies and adults when they’re not feeling well. It’s the Chinese equivalent of chicken soup.When my husband is sick, I make a batch of congee and serve it to him throughout the day. It’s comforting, nourishing and hydrating.
I look forward to eating Turkey brown rice congee for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving each year. It’s the ultimate comfort food in my book.
Turkey Brown Rice Congee
Turkey congee is the ultimate comfort food, typically served the morning after Thanksgiving. The base is turkey broth made with the leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving.
- 1 turkey carcass
- 1/2 cup medium grain brown rice
- 1/4 cup glutinous white rice
- minced scallions
- chopped cilantro
- fried shallots
- toasted sesame oil
- soy sauce or fish sauce
Place turkey carcass in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 2 hours. Strain broth.
Place both brown rice and white rice in a bowl; rinse and strain several times. Transfer to a large pot and add 8 cups of turkey broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 2 hours, until soft and porridge-like in consistency, adding more water or broth as needed.
To serve, top with desired accompaniments.
Congee will thicken once refrigerated. To reheat, add more water or broth.