A friend asked me the other day for a super easy and light meal to prepare for her kids on a scorching summer day when all her energy had been drained by the heat. I thought for a moment and couldn’t think of a better recipe than this fish fillet congee, although the shrimp congee that I posted earlier would work as well.
Both these congee recipes can serve as a light meal alone or complement other vegetable or meaty dishes. For a hot summer day, I recommend including some cold dishes, such as cucumber salad, steamed eggplant with garlic, or Chinese broccoli with garlic-soy sauce.
This fish fillet congee is another example of the Cantonese-style rice congee, or the raw boiling congee (生滚粥), in which thinly sliced raw fish fillets are first lightly marinated then added at the very end to the hot congee to be rapidly cooked so as to retain fish’s nutrition and refreshing taste. After being quickly cooked in the hot congee, the fish fillets are tender and soft, and their mild savory flavor is nicely absorbed by the congee. If you have some lettuce handy, you can cut some into thin pieces and add them along with the fish fillets.
I’ve raved about the advantages of using an Instant Pot to make congee. It’s easy mode. There’s no need to worry about timing or water spilling over. The only disadvantage of using an Instant Pot is that although the rice grains become so soft that they are hard to notice when eating, they are not fully disintegrated. In the cooktop method, however, the grains are no longer visible and fully disintegrated. You can get a closer result to the cooktop method by using delayed pressure cooking, which lets the rice soak in water for a few hours first. But that requires planning way ahead which can be hard to achieve for me. So I like to turn on the “Sauté” mode after opening the lid and use a wooden spatula to stir and mix the congee for a few minutes first before adding the thinly sliced fish fillets. The stirring process breaks down the rice grains further and integrates them into the water.
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: ~1 hour
Servings: 6 people
- 1 1/3 cups (or 310 ml) medium or short grain rice1
- 2 1-inch long (2.5cm) pieces of ginger
- 2 green onions
- ~11 cups water2
- 2 fish fillets3
- ~2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon corn starch
- Follow steps 1 to 5 from my previous post for shrimp congee. It’s the same steps for the congee/porridge. Since this recipe calls for double the ginger, only add half the ginger slices to the Instant Pot. Save the rest for the fish fillet marinade in the following step.
- While waiting for the congee to cook, prepare and marinate the fish fillets. Cut the fish fillets at an angle into thin slices and put the slices in a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon table salt), ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, ½ teaspoon corn starch, and the other half of the ginger slices, mixing well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes either on the kitchen counter or in the refrigerator.
- Chop the 2 green onions into thin slices.
- When the Instant Pot is done cooking the rice, it will switch to the “Keep Warm” mode automatically. You can use a utensil to manually switch the valve to the “Venting” position to let out the steam. (WARNING: Never use your hand to turn the valve as the steam will be hot. ALWAYS follow all safety instructions that come with your particular Instant Pot.) Optionally, if you are not pressed for time, wait 15-20 minutes until the Instant Pot naturally releases pressure. No matter the method, be sure to wait until the little floater next to the valve drops down before opening the lid.
- Uncover the lid and press the “Cancel” button. Then press the “Sauté” button. When bubbles start appearing in the congee, use a wooden spatula to stir and mix the congee for a few minutes so the grains are further broken down and more integrated into the water.
- After a few minutes of stirring, add the marinated fish fillets and continue stirring and combining everything. Make sure be gentle and not to break the fish fillets.
- When the fish fillets change color from translucent to white, (about 30 seconds to 1 minute), press the “Cancel” button.
- Add the green onions and the 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon if using table salt) and mix well. Add more salt to taste.
- Long grain rice should not be used for making the congee base. The cup measurement is the standard US cup (250ml). It’s larger than the plastic cup that comes with your rice cooker.
- It takes approximately 11 cups of water to reach the ½ level mark which is 3 quarts, or 12 cups.
- Either fresh or previously frozen fish fillet with mild taste works well. Here in the picture, I used previously frozen tilapia fish fillets. I’ve tried cod and halibut, and both yielded equally good results.