Pork Congee with Thousand Year Old Egg

This is a rather simple dish that is viewed as a comfort breakfast meal by Chinese people.  As strange as this breakfast will look to most people reading this, congee is is as familiar to even a Chinese immigrant in America as Cream of Wheat is to mainstream Americans.  The list of ingredients for this version of the dish is scant.  The difficulty of preparation is low if the rice is cooked in a pot and nil if you have a rice cooker.

As a base dish, congee is basically rice that’s cooked in a much higher volume of water than one normally would for dinner rice.  It’s basically cream of rice cereal without the cream (though you are certainly entitled to prepare congee with cream and sugar to eat it that way as well).  So if you normally use 1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of dry measure rice, you will use 8 cups of water with congee.  If you cook this in a pot, use that ratio.  If you have a smart rice cooker, it is as simple as choosing the Porridge setting.


The cooker will have measurement lines inside that tell how much water to add for however many cups of rice you have.  Set to porridge and then push the start button.  I prefer to use Japanese rice for my congee but use whatever rice suits your fancy.  There are no rules here.

Now one of the more interesting ingredients to this is the preserved duck egg.  Also known as the thousand year old egg, or century egg or even millennium egg.


You can buy them at most large Asian markets.  They come in a 6 pack and are normally individually wrapped within.  These are duck eggs.  The existence of these eggs comes from a desire to preserve the eggs before the advent of refrigeration in China.  The method of preservation is simple.  The fresh eggs are buried in ash clay and the clay is allowed to harden.  They then coat the outside with straw or grass and the eggs age for 90+ days.  During that time the whites of the eggs turn dark amber and the yolk turns anywhere from grayish yellow to blackish green.  A sort of controlled fermentation takes place.  Freshly peeled, the eggs are usually black or dark brown.


It looks like a stunning onyx jewel of the orient.  And to those that love these, it IS!


Cut in half, you can see that the whites are actually dark amber as I mentioned above.  This particular egg has a black yolk.  The flavor is a lot like a strong European cheese.  The odor is like a ripe cheese with a hint of ammonia.


I have diced up two eggs here and as you can see, one of them has yellow in the yolk while the other is black.  But the color doesn’t seem to affect the flavor much, if at all.


So the dish waits for the porridge to be done cooking before we can continue.


I like to stir fry some Chinese chives but scallions are also popular additions to this cereal.


The rice congee is spooned over the thousand year old egg slices and topped with the stir fried chives.  Then the top layer of rice is gently stirred to mix in the chives.  The next ingredient is one that really intrigued me when I first learned of it.  If you do searches on congee on the web you will see frequent references to “dried pork” but no pictures (at least none that I could ever find).  What they are referring to is below.  It is shredded pork seasoned with soy sauce and sugar that is completely desiccated.  It has the texture of cotton candy but a lot more savory.


The container this pork comes out of is there to the left in the picture above.  Again, a product of your local Asian supermarket.  They come in different darkness levels which equate to varying flavor strengths.  What you see above is about the medium.


And there it is ready to eat.  Note that Congee can be used any way you like.  You can make it cream of rice cereal with the addition of some milk and sugar if you want.  Or eat them like grits.  It is a versatile dish with as many ways to eat it as there are people who do the eating.  My daughter ate the other half of the congee that I prepared in my rice cooker.  She put honey and a tablespoon of cream in hers 😉


So I will provide the rather simple recipe below.  Note that because of the high water content, one cup of precooked rice will make a LOT of congee.

Pork Congee with Thousand Year Old Egg (serves 1-2)

  • 1 cup uncooked rice.
  • 1-2 preserved duck eggs (Century eggs) sliced into wedges.
  • 3 Tbs chopped Chinese chives or scallions.
  • 1 cup dried shredded pork.
  • Fresh ground Chinese white pepper to taste.


  • Cook rice with 8 times the same volume of water or follow directions on your rice cooker for the porridge setting.
  • Arrange century egg pieces in a bowl.
  • Add hot congee to cover the eggs.
  • Top with Chinese chives or scallions and stir a little.
  • Top with dried pork
  • Pepper as needed
  • Serve

Thank you for reading!




Thai Pork Fried Rice

Getting back to the Asian recipes, I am going to show how I make my fried rice.  There are at least a dozen times as many varieties of fried rice as there are countries that make it.  And they all taste very differently from one another and yet there some techniques to cooking that are common to all of them.  The dish I am going to share today is Pork Fried Rice cooked the way it might be in Thailand.  I say might because there are so many ways this dish can be prepared even with that title.  As Chinese Pork Fried Rice is the pork fried rice dish most people are familiar with, it is the one most people use as a reference and indeed will compare this one to.  There will be differences between Chinese pork fried rice and Thai – one big one being the pork is often dyed red and sliced differently in China.  The other being that very fragrant and flavorful Thai basil is present in the Thai version.

The preparation actually starts a day in advance.  I will cook 2 dry measure cups of Jasmine rice in my rice cooker and then allow it to cool, covered.  After that, put it in the refrigerator overnight.  The following day, I will take the rice out, wet my hands and break up the clumps into individual grains of rice.  I choose Jasmine because Japanese rice is a poor choice as it sticks together readily even the next day.  If you go to a Japanese restaurant and you sit at the Hibachi grill, next time you are there look at the rice they give people when they ask for steamed.  It’s probably Nishiki or Calrose medium grain (both low cost Japanese style rices).  But when the chef starts to fry the rice on the grill after he does his egg trick, you will note he has long grain rice he dumps out on the heated surface.  In most of these restaurant they use previously parboiled rice because it separates very easily and they don’t have to mess with the rice as much by hand.  That’s right.  Your favorite Japanese Hibachi joint makes your fried rice with Minute Rice!


Above I have my ingredients, minus the oil, Chinese white pepper and the eggs.  Starting from the rice and working clockwise in a spiral we have precooked, chilled Jasmine rice, my fried rice sauce (recipe below), shrimp powder, chopped red spanish onion, minced garlic, mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, lima beans, corn and green beans), diced pork (butterfly pork chops cut into bite sized pieces), Thai basil and snow pea pods in the center.

Like most dishes I start by firing up my burner and heating up my wok.  I put the burner at about 60% as ultra high heat is not needed here and may even burn the rice.  So for those of you that don’t have wok burners – you can make this dish taste just as good on an indoor stove.   For this recipe I use my 18″ Cantonese wok as this makes a lot of food.   When the oil starts to shimmer with heat, we put in the beaten eggs.


Scramble the eggs just until they are no longer runny and add the pork.


We want to cook the pork until it is white all over.


Add the garlic and onions and stir fry until fragrant.  Even on lower heat, the wok gets very hot as low heat on this burner is still 50,000 BTU.  Lots of steam.


After the pork is cooked, add all the vegetables except the snow pea pods and Thai basil and stir.


I add the snow peas and stir these in.  You want them coated lightly with oil.  The trick here is to flash cook everything.  That is – the outside of the vegetable pieces cook and the inside are still a little raw and full of vitamins.  You want that crispness and fresh flavor.


Now for the most savory ingredient in this dish and one that will clearly distinguish this as being Thai – the Thai basil.  You want to cook this until the basil is wilted before adding the rice.


Add the rice and mix well.  Now the rice frying begins in earnest.  You want to stir well but don’t overdo it or you will break too many of the grains.  You want the rice to mix with what little oil may be left.  At this point I add a teaspoon of dried shrimp powder and 1/2 teaspoon of ground Chinese white pepper sprinkled over the top.


After the rice has cooked maybe 5-6 minutes I like to add my fried rice sauce.  I will pour in a spiral and use maybe 3/4 cup to 1 cup.  You do not want ANY loose liquid pooling.  Everything you pour in should be absorbed by the rice with a quick stir.


Now it looks like a fried rice, doesn’t it?  The sauce gives the rice its tan color which is really a trademark of fried rice in any Asian country.  At this point it’s done and ready to be served.  I like to take it out of the wok and put in a large bowl to serve from.


For most people this meal would be ready to eat.  And for the rest of my family, it was and their the plates looked like the above.  But for me – it needs three more things to be truly Thai.


A fried egg on top is a signature Thai move.  You want to fry at high heat so the whites get a little crispy around the edges and the yolk inside still crawls over the rice when the skin is broken.


Lastly I sprinkle some cilantro over the top and then spoon some Prik Nam Pla over the meal to season it as desired.  I like a lot of hot pepper but adding the things that make me happy occur after it is done is fine and does not lessen the enjoyment of the other diners of this dish.  One thing that differs greatly between countries own fried rice dishes will be the composition of the fried rice sauce.  So you can make this, the recipe is below.

Thai Pork Fried Rice (serves 4-6 as a main dish):

  • 4-5 Tbs peanut oil
  • Day old cooked rice made from 2 cups of uncooked Jasmine rice.
  • 3/4 lb butterfly pork chops cut into bite sized chunks.
  • Two eggs beaten.
  • 1 cup Thai basil
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, beans)
  • 1 cup snow pea pods
  • One medium onion chopped (you can substitute 4 scallions chopped if desired)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried shrimp powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground white Chinese pepper

Sauce ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs sweet soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs Golden Mountain sauce
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs Fish sauce
  • 4 Tbs oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbs white or rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs corn starch
  • 2 Tbs water


  • Heat oil in a wok or large flat bottom pan until the oil is hot.
  • Add the beaten eggs and scramble.
  • Add the pork and stir fry until the pieces are opaque.
  • Stir in the onion and garlic.
  • Add the mixed vegetables and stir well.
  • Stir in the Thai basil and sweat the leaves until they wilt and shrink up.
  • Stir in the snow pea pods to coat with oil.
  • Add the rice and mix well.  You will want to fry this for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  You want the rice to cook in the oil some.
  • In a spiralling motion twirling in, pour some of the fried rice sauce over the rice and stir.  Add more if all the rice kernels don’t get that beige color.
  • Sprinkle the shrimp powder (if using) and the Chinese pepper over the rice and give one more stir.
  • Remove from heat and put into a large serving bowl.
  • Garnish plates with cilantro, sliced cucumber and tomato wedges.
  • Add an over easy-medium fried egg on top of each dish if desired.
  • Serve with Nam Pla Prik.

This is one of those dishes that got its start with people wondering what to do with leftover rice.  The cult just grew from there.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I.