Soothing Rice Porridge

All my Chinese-American friends share with me the love of this comfort food, in which a small bit of rice is cooked with either plain water or broth into a soothing porridge. Once it is made, any type of food or flavouring you choose can be added to make this a satisfying light treat. For example, Amy Tan’s mother added preserved vegetables. But perhaps the most Chinese-American and delicious variation is that of Gordon Wing’s mother, who makes her porridge with leftover turkey bones. My mother made hers with preserved thousand-year-old eggs, which are still my favourite way of eating this porridge.


  • 2.8 litres (5 pints) water or Chinese Chicken Stock or store-bought fresh stock
  • 100 g ( oz) long-grain white rice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 140–175 g (5–6 oz) any flavouring of your choice, such as Sichuan preserved vegetables, or diced cooked chicken or duck, or leftover meats, fish, etc.
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander


Bring the water to the boil in a large pot and add the rice and salt. Let the rice come back to the boil and give it several good stirs. Then turn the heat down to low and partially cover the pot. Let the rice simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. The result will be a rather thick rice porridge, for most of the water will be absorbed in the cooking. Then add your chosen flavouring and simmer for a further 5 minutes uncovered. Just before serving, add the spring onions and fresh coriander. Serve it at once.

If you like, the porridge can be made in advance. In this case, reheat it slowly and simply add some more water if the porridge is too thick.