Cháoshàn porridge or Cháoshàn Zhōu (潮汕粥) stems from the eponymous town in Guǎngdōng Province, the kind of place where people still slide live, flinching prawns down their throats without batting an eye.
Porridge, Cháoshàn-style especially, is a bit of a classic Chinese social stunt. Parties talk while the porridge cools, letting the saline aroma of fresh seafood ingredients stewed to perfection fill the air. The porridge part of the dish is simple: long rice floating in boiling water, kept at a solid-to-liquid ratio of 1:4, slow-cooked and preserved hot in a clay pot until a family or group of friends finish conversing over it.
And it all can be prepared in less than twenty minutes.
When asked what his favorite variation of Cháoshàn porridge is, the Executive Chef at Cháoshàn Porridge Casserole throws his head back in laughter before answering with a wide and toothy smile, “Plain laa.” Chef Xiè Yánjūn (谢炎君) hails from Cháoshàn itself. He is an expert with bird’s nests, abalones, and other sea delicacies, and has two decades of experience as a Seafood Chef at many 5-star hotel restaurants.
Chef Xiè cannot stress enough that sophisticated palettes should always discern the natural taste of foods separate from all the fancy shebang. And that goes double for something as straightforward as Cháoshàn porridge.
If you’re a fan of quick, easy, and delicious seafood dishes that’ll impress your Chinese (or even Cháoshàn) friends, here’s one of Chef Xiè’s own recipes.
Chef Xiè’s Chaoshan Porridge
Ingredients (Makes about 2 servings)
+2 cups rice
+8 c water (adjust as you like)
+1 tablespoon peanut sauce (not Skippy peanut butter, runnier)
+1 t lard (preferable! or sesame oil)
Liberal amounts of seafood and water produce
+2 t dried scallops (for taste)
+4 champignons, sliced
+1 t sliced fresh ginger (essential)
+2 t salt
+1 t fish sauce (yú lù 鱼露)
+1 t preserved Chinese cabbage (dōng cài 冬菜), diced
+2 t diced celery
+1 t pepper
Make the congee
1. Wash rice three or four times, and let it rest in the water for half an hour.
2. Rice in a clay pot (preferable! or a casserole), and bring it to boil.
3. 7-8 minutes in, add a tsp of peanut butter sauce and a tsp of lard.
4. 2 minutes later, add your choice of seafood and/or water produce — prawns, crabs, or slices of raw fish— the only rule, make sure it’s fresh.
5. Instead of loads of spices, use a handful of dried scallops and champignon slices to bring out the taste.
6. Wait for 2-3 minutes, then add salt, sliced fresh ginger, fish sauce, and store-bought preserved Chinese cabbage (optional).
7. Then 5-6 minutes later, your pot of finished. Add ground white pepper and diced celery to taste.
Option A: Cilantro and broad bean paste (dòu bàn jiàng 豆瓣酱).
Option B: Fermented bean curd (fŭ rŭ 腐乳) and Chinese pickles called kale borehole (găn lăn cài 橄榄菜).
If you’d like to try it stirred by Chef Xiè himself, stop by Cháoshàn Porridge Casserole (壹零壹潮汕砂锅粥) at 528 Nánquán North Road, 1/F in North Blk (南泉北路528号新大陆广场北楼1层).