The perfect breakfast for a chilly stormy day. This slow cooker congee with crispy fried fish and tofu might look like it required a ton of work but, in reality, prepping was simple and cooking was minimal.
It’s comfort food that fuses tradition with new ideas. Because whoever thought of serving the humble lugaw (the local name for congee) with fried fish fillets? In the Philippines, it’s either goto (beef tripe) or tokwa’t baboy (tofu and boiled pork, served on the side).
I used to hate congee. It was sickbed food when I was growing up. It was only lately that I started appreciating it. And a huge part of the reason is learning how to cook congee properly. Right, cooked correctly, congee is magic.
This congee, a mixture of sticky rice and Japanese rice, was cooked overnight in the slow cooker. The following day, the fish and tofu were fried and served on top of the steaming congee.
In case you’re wondering what kind of tofu went into the congee, that’s firm tofu that you see. You may, of course, choose something softer like cotton or silken tofu. But you’ll need to do extra work on those to remove as much of the liquid as you can. Otherwise, you’ll have hot oil flying all over.
Because we love bangus (milkfish) belly fillets, those were what I used. Four fillets that I cut into halves. Seasoned lightly and simply, dredged in a little flour (this extra step helps tremendously in preventing the oil from sputtering during frying) and dropped in hot oil.
- Slow Cooker
Cook the congee
- Rinse the glutinous and Japanese rice several times. Dump into the slow cooker.
- Pour in the bone broth.
- Set the cooker to LOW and cook overnight (about eight hours).
- Stir the congee to scrape anything that sticks to the bottom of the cooker. Turn up the heat to HIGH and cook for another two hours (cooking on HIGH during the last stage agitates the rice grains better to make a thicker congee).
Cook the tofu and fish about 30 minutes before the congee is done
- Dry the surface of the bangus belly fillets with paper towels.
- Sprinkle the bangus belly fillets liberally with salt and pepper. Optionally, cut them into halves. Set aside.
- Cut the tofu into half inch slices. Press between paper towels to remove excess liquid.
- Heat enough cooking oil in a pan to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Fry the tofu slices until golden and crisp. Scoop out and drain on a rack.
- Reheat the cooking oil.
- Dredge the bangus belly fillets lightly in flour, drop into the hot oil and cook for three to four minutes or until a golden crispy crust has formed. Scoop out and drain on a rack.
Assemble the dish
- Cut the tofu slices into half-inch cubes.
- Ladle congee into bowls.
- Top the congee with one to two pieces of bangus belly fillets. Scatter tofu cubes around the fish.
- Sprinkle with fried shallots and sliced scallions before serving.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.