Our hearty bacon and eggs breakfast congee recipe for this week’s edition of Weekend Eggs makes a comforting East-West savoury rice porridge that’s inspired partly by the classic Australian breakfast of bacon and eggs with sautéed mushrooms, and partly by Chinese and Southeast breakfast porridges with pork and boiled eggs.
Breakfast porridges, both savoury and sweet, are, like other rice dishes, eaten right around the world. Porridges are not only made with rice, of course, but with oats, buckwheat, barley, maize, mung beans, millets, oats, semolina, and sorghum. Porridges are also not only eaten for breakfast, but for brunch and lunch, a warming winter dinner, as a sweet dessert, a late-night supper to stave off a hangover, or when we’re ill.
Rice porridges are probably the most widely consumed porridge, eaten everywhere from Europe and the Middle East to Asia – from Portugal to Turkey, The Levant to Taiwan – yet they might just be the most ubiquitous in Asia. Originating in India – in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, plain rice porridge is called kanji, which comes from the word for ‘boiling’ – China is perhaps the country we most associate with rice porridge or congee, although I’d wager that most Asian countries have a congee.
Here in Cambodia, rice porridge is called borbor, one of Southeast Asia’s oldest rice porridges, which is often translated to English as ‘Cambodian congee’. And in Indonesia, it’s bubur. Close! In Myanmar, it’s called hsan byoke; in Laos, they have khao piak; in Vietnam, there’s cháo; and in Thailand, it’s jok. It’s juk in Korea; kayu or okayu in Japan; in Taiwan, it’s xifan or zhou, and in the Philippines, it’s lugaw. In Malaysia and Singapore, it’s congee.
Our bacon and eggs breakfast congee recipe is the latest recipe in our Weekend Eggs series. If you haven’t dropped by in a while, we revived our Weekend Eggs series on quintessential breakfast eggs dishes from around the world, which we first launched with Grantourismo over a decade ago.
Recipes recently published in the rebooted series include a Mexican migas recipe with a twist for a Migas tortilla, fried eggs breakfast taco with chorizo, crunchy potatoes and spicy chorizo oil, scrambled eggs breakfast taco recipe with avocado and chorizo, Basque fried eggs with chorizo and potatoes recipe for ‘messy eggs’, Mexico City-inspired chorizo eggs, Thai fried egg salad recipe for yam khai dao, and pesto scrambled eggs, and a Japanese rolled omelette recipe for tamagoyaki.
We’ve also published recipes for scrambled eggs with sauteed mushrooms on sourdough, soft scrambled eggs with Chinese pork and chives, Indian egg bhurji, Chinese marbled tea eggs, corn fritter breakfast burgers, Russian devilled eggs, Turkish çılbır poached eggs and menemen scrambled eggs, Calabria’s take on ‘eggs in purgatory’ with ’nduja, Thai son-in-law eggs, Thai omelette kai jiaw, Cambodian steamed eggs, and Malaysia and Singapore’s half-boiled eggs with kaya jam and toast.
Before I tell you about our bacon and eggs breakfast congee recipe, we have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by using our links to buy travel insurance, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, book accommodation, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. You could also browse our Grantourismo store for gifts for food lovers, including food-themed reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images.
Another option is to support our epic Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon; or buy us a coffee, although we’ll probably use our coffee money to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing; or buy something on Amazon, such as these cookbooks for culinary travellers, James Beard award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, travel books to inspire wanderlust, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers. Now let me tell you about this bacon and eggs breakfast congee recipe.
Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Congee Recipe for a Comforting East-West Savoury Rice Porridge
Our bacon and eggs breakfast congee recipe is partly a result of lockdown boredom and partly a result of nostalgia – which explains a lot of our recipes lately, from our classic Australian café-style avocado toast with poached eggs, to my avocado pasta, both of which were born in the Eighties. But let’s face it: I also have a thing for rice porridge.
We were bound to fall in love with breakfast congee after moving to Southeast Asia a decade ago. Of course, that wasn’t the first time we’d eaten congee. That was in Australia, where we probably cooked and ate Asian cuisines about as equally as European cuisines. But it wasn’t until we moved to Southeast Asia that we ate rice porridge with more regularity.
For me, the breakfast congee ritual was a reminder of another favourite breakfast from another former home. When we lived in the Middle East, one of our favourite breakfasts was ful medames (also spelt foul medames) or stewed fava beans.
While we loved buying ful from street-side sellers – our favourite of which was in Aleppo in northern Syria – having a full ful buffet at a five-star hotel in Damascus, Beirut or Cairo was the ultimate DIY ful experience.
Beside the enormous copper pot of ful, there’d be an array of dishes – a variety of gorgeous olive oils; aromatic ground spices such as cumin and cloves; chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, parsley, chilli peppers, and cucumbers; juicy olives and lemon quarters – so that you could customise your bowl of ful just the way you liked it.
I feel the same way about the congee breakfast in Southeast Asia. While I love buying a bowl of congee or borbor or jok or chao on the street or from a small family eatery, there’s nothing quite like creating your own rice porridge from an elaborate buffet at a luxury hotel, where like the ful station in the Middle East it’s often over the top.
What’s even better? Making your own ultimate breakfast congee at home, which means starting with your own indulgent breakfast congee buffet, with generous garnishes and a whole assortment of condiments.
If you have an Asian pantry that’s anything like our pantry that will include various fish sauces and soy sauces, homemade Sriracha and chilli oil, crunchy fried garlic and shallots, sesame seeds, or even better, a homemade furikake (Japanese seasoning).
And that’s how this bacon and eggs breakfast congee recipe for a comforting East-West Asian-Australian savoury rice porridge came about. Just a few tips for how to make it.
Tips to Making this Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Congee Recipe
Asian rice porridges are fairly restrained, however, our Australian bacon and eggs breakfast congee recipe takes its inspiration from a full Aussie breakfast of bacon, eggs and mushrooms (that would probably also come with a tomato, baked beans, toast etc), so it has to be literally brimming with condiments and garnishes. This is a bowl that you could easily share and there will be leftovers.
Lightly pound the lemongrass, ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle a few times, just enough to release the aromas, not to make a paste.
There are a couple of ways to make rice porridge and rice soup – here in Cambodia, there are a few ways – and they either start with raw rice that you’ll boil with water in a pot on the stove, or with leftover steamed rice, the whole idea being that the rice porridge is a way to use up the leftover rice.
Our Australian bacon and eggs breakfast congee assumes you’re starting with leftover rice – and it should be jasmine rice or a long grain rice – so you could plan to make this for breakfast the morning after you’ve made rice for another meal and make extra.
If you’re cooking your rice from scratch in a rice cooker, then follow steps one and two in this Cambodian chicken rice porridge recipe. Note that the ratio of cups of rice to water for a thin rice porridge, which locals in Cambodia would actually call a rice soup, is generally 1:10 (rice:water), however, for a thicker rice porridge it is anything from 1:7 through to 1:9. For a very filling and very creamy weekend rice porridge, I’d recommend 1:7.
Remember that the longer your rice porridge cooks, the more water it will continue to absorb, so it will keep thickening, so if you need to stretch it out, then go for 1:10 and cook it for longer. However, keep in mind that a thick rice porridge with a ratio of 1:10 that has slow cooked over a long period will taste very starchy. Reduce the time and you’ll have a less starchy rice soup.
When starting with leftover cooked jasmine rice, begin with one litre of water, then add more water as needed. Don’t forget that the longer you cook the rice porridge for, the thicker it will get as it absorbs water, which is why we only recommend cooking it until it’s hot. If you do want to make it ahead and leave it to sit on the stove for a while, then keep this in mind.
We’ve only used water here, as there’s a lot of flavour from the aromatics, seasoning, toppings, garnishes, and condiments, but you could use a stock if you preferred.
I note below that this bacon and eggs breakfast congee serves two if you’re making big bowls of rice porridge (and there will still be leftovers), however, it could also serve four to six people if you’re using medium sized bowls or small side bowls, which you could do if you’re preparing an Asian-inspired breakfast or brunch spread for guests. Remember those?!
Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Congee Recipe
- 1 tbsp chilli oil
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp fried shallots
- 1 tbsp fried garlic
- Lightly pound the ginger, garlic and lemongrass in a mortar and pestle just until they break and their aromas are released, transfer them to a medium-sized soup pot filled with a litre of water, turn the heat on to high, and bring to a boil.
- Add the leftover steamed jasmine rice to the pot, along with salt and white pepper, stir, and reduce the heat to low. Keep an eye on the rice porridge, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick; if necessary, add more water to the pot. You only want to heat it until it’s hot, you don’t want it mushy; it should be of a consistency that you can easily stir it with a spoon.
- While the rice porridge is simmering, boil two eggs following this method for 5 1/2 minutes.
- Fry the bacon. Take out 2 slices when still soft and cook the other 2 pieces until crispy. Set aside on paper towels and sauté the mushrooms whole in the fat left from the bacon. When browned a little, remove and slice the mushrooms and add back to the pan with some crushed garlic.
- Ladle the rice porridge into bowls, place two boiled egg halves on top, and generously sprinkle on the bacon, mushrooms, spring onions, and furikake seasoning.
- Douse with chilli oil and a little dark soy sauce and serve with condiments, such as soy sauce, fish sauce, fried shallots and fried garlic, and chilli oil, because you can never have enough chilli oil.
Please do let us know if you make our bacon and eggs breakfast congee recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.