Brown Rice Mushroom Congee with Sardines

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This Brown Rice Mushroom Congee with Sardines is good old comfort food that happens to be healthy. Brown rice is simmered in a Japanese dashi broth until creamy and then mixed with canned sardines. Topped with stir-fried mushrooms, a soft-boiled egg, fried shallots, and green onions, this is the ultimate savory breakfast that also works for lunch or dinner. Jump to Recipe

Brown Rice Mushroom Congee with Sardines

The magic of this dish is that it utilizes pantry food. If you look in your fridge and think there is nothing remotely interesting you could make and you don’t want to go grocery shopping, you could make this.

Vertical side shot of brown rice congee, stir fried mushrooms, and two ramen egg halves.

I had one of those days recently. My pantry was a mess and I often forget what’s in there. When I crawled into my closet pantry (sadly, I’m being literal) I found kombu, dried bonito flakes, and dried shiitake mushrooms. These are great pantry items to have because they make a quick and easy Japanese dashi broth. The shiitake mushrooms can easily be rehydrated and used to add flavor, texture, and bulk to dishes.

Very close vertical side shot of brown rice congee and two ramen egg halves with runny yolks.

My mind was stuck on congee, a type of rice porridge usually served for breakfast. I decided to use brown rice and I cooked it in a dashi broth to really up that smoky fish flavor to compliment the sardines. If you don’t like fish, you won’t like this congee, that’s for sure. All the fancy add-ons came the next day when I had time to go get some mushrooms and green onions.

Overhead shot of a round bowl filled with congee, stir fried mushrooms, fried shallots, green onions, and a split ramen egg with runny yolks on a plain dark surface.

And yes, the add-ons take the congee to the next level. But I also loved cracking an egg over a single serving, heating it up in the oven and then serving it with a little garlic chili paste and fish sauce.

Overhead shot of sautéed mushrooms and green onions in a pile on a baking sheet.

I posted a recipe for Stir Fried Mushrooms with Garlic and Ginger and this is one of the dishes I pair with that side to make a more filling meal.

I’m Kind of Sort of Meal Prepping Now

Because of my new job, I’ve been forced to go through some meal adjustments. I’m practicing a little food prep on Sundays. But it’s still something that is hard for my body to handle.

Eating a variety of different kinds of foods with different textures and fiber content is still the best for my digestion. And food prep often leads to eating a lot of the same thing each week. By the second or third day, my body has a harder time digesting everything properly.

I’m also realizing that I need to get a handle on cooking faster and easier weekday meals. Two things that are saving me are curry paste and slow cookers.

I created a really amazing and quick meal with spiralized sweet potato, coconut milk, and my Thai Red Curry Paste that gave me dinner in 10 minutes. I’ll work on getting that recipe up soon! And while I’m at work, a slow cooker can be cooking dinner for me.

My Slow Cooker is My Hero

All these changes lead me to wait before posting this because I wanted to include slow cooker instructions and streamline the recipe a little.

Vertical side close up shot of brown rice congee, stir fried mushrooms, and two ramen egg halves.

For example, usually, you would soak the kombu seaweed for thirty minutes before beginning to heat it. But to make a quicker broth, I heated the kombu and bonito flakes together until just before boiling and only let them steep for 5 minutes.

Normally you let the dried shiitake mushrooms soak for a longer period of time as well. But I just let them soak for five minutes. Honestly, I didn’t notice a big change in flavor either, which is great.

Close up overhead shot of runny ramen egg yolk on top of stir fried mushrooms and congee

I put everything in the slow cooker before leaving for work and let it cook covered on low for a little longer than 7 hours. At first, I was really worried because it looked burnt. But the top layer had gotten a little dry and a simple stir fixed that problem.

It was also extremely gooey and I like a little more liquid in my congee. Adding a little bit of the reserved mushroom water got it to the texture that I like best.

Close up overhead shot of runny ramen egg yolk on top of stir fried mushrooms and congee

What are your favorite ways to get a lot of variety in your diet with meal prep? I could use all the advice you have!

5 from 1 vote

Brown Rice Mushroom Congee with Sardines

This Brown Rice Mushroom Congee with Sardines is good old comfort food that happens to be healthy. Brown rice is simmered in a Japanese dashi broth until creamy and then mixed with canned sardines. Topped with stir-fried mushrooms, a soft-boiled egg, fried shallots, and green onions, this is the ultimate savory breakfast that also works for lunch or dinner. 
Servings 4
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 7 hrs
Total Time 7 hrs 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 (4x4 inch) pieces of kombu
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dried bonito flakes, packed
  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Morton Kosher Salt
  • 1 (4 and 1/4 ounce) can sardines packed in extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce

Toppings

Instructions

Slow Cooker Instructions (5 minutes prep, 7 hours cook)

  • Add the water, kombu, and dried bonito flakes to a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the water is just about to boil. Turn off the heat, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain the broth into a slow cooker through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the kombu and soggy bonito flakes. 
  • Pour boiling water over the dried shiitake mushrooms and let them sit for 5 minutes. Rinse them under running water and squeeze out any excess liquid. Slice the mushrooms and add them to the slow cooker. Reserve the mushroom water for later, just in case you want your congee to be a little more liquid. It will add more flavor than regular water. 
  • Rinse the brown rice under running water and let it drain. Add to the crockpot.
  • Cook covered on low for 7 hours or on high for 5 hours. If it’s possible, stir the congee a couple of times. If you aren’t able to do so, it might get a little done along the edges of the crockpot but not too bad. Mine sat unstirred for 7 hours and it came out just fine. 
  • Add some of the reserved mushroom water to get the texture you desire. Mine was very gelatinous and I wanted it to be a little more liquid so I added the reserved mushroom water until it was the texture I prefer. 
  • Once the congee is the texture you like, add the white pepper and salt. Take the sardines out of the can and tear them apart with a fork. Add to the congee and stir. Season with fish sauce to taste.
  • Serve with soft boiled ramen egg, a drizzle of hot chili oil or garlic chili paste, fried shallots, sliced green onions, and Stir Fried Mushrooms with Garlic and Ginger.  

Stovetop Instructions (5 minutes prep, 55 to 75 minutes cook)

  • Add the water, kombu pieces, and dried bonito flakes to a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over medium until the water is just about to boil. Turn off the heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain out the kombu and soggy bonito flakes with a fine mesh strainer and pour the broth back into the saucepan. 
  • Rinse the brown rice under running water and let it drain. Add the brown rice to the broth, cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes. 
  • While the rice simmers, pour boiling water over the dried shiitake mushrooms and let it sit for 15 minutes. Once the mushrooms are soft, rinse them under running water and then squeeze out any excess liquid. Slice the mushrooms and set aside. Reserve the water the mushrooms soaked in for later.
  • After the rice has cooked 15 minutes give it a stir, making sure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. 
  • Add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and stir. Simmer covered for 20 minutes. 
  • If you like your congee to be a little smoother and more broken down, keep adding a 1/2 cup to a cup of the reserved mushroom water from earlier and cook for 15 to 20 minutes more. 
  • Once the congee is the texture you like, add the white pepper and salt. Take the sardines out of the can and tear them apart with a fork. Add to the congee and stir. Season with fish sauce to taste.
  • Serve with soft boiled ramen egg, a drizzle of hot chili oil or garlic chili paste, fried shallots, sliced green onions, and Stir Fried Mushrooms with Garlic and Ginger.  

Notes

*Fried Shallots: Slice shallots thinly and place them in a pan filled with vegetable oil. Have enough oil that the shallots are able to be just covered. Turn heat to high. Once the shallots begin to bubble, turn heat to medium or medium-low. Once the shallots stop bubbling, transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle with a little Morton Kosher Salt.
*Ramen Egg: Boil cold eggs anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes and immediately transfer them to ice water to stop them from cooking more. Combine equal parts soy sauce and mirin and three parts water in a ziplock bag. Once the eggs are cool enough to touch, carefully peel them. Place them in the bag and marinate overnight.
Author: Megan Wells
Course: Breakfast

Brown Rice Mushroom Congee with Sardines | Topped with stir-fried mushrooms, a soft-boiled egg, and fried shallots, this is the ultimate savory breakfast that also works for lunch or dinner. #porridge #congee #healthy #breakfast #sardines #mushrooms | www.megiswell.com</div/

Brown Rice Mushroom Congee with Sardines | Topped with stir-fried mushrooms, a soft-boiled egg, and fried shallots, this is the ultimate savory breakfast that also works for lunch or dinner. #porridge #congee #healthy #breakfast #sardines #mushrooms | www.megiswell.com</div/

Join the Conversation

  1. 5 stars
    I need to move next door to you and share your food. Omg.. this looks incredible! I need to find those dashi broth ingredients and eat this- YUM!!!

    1. Same! And yes, you need to get dashi broth ingredients, they’re perfect for a pescatarian!

  2. 5 stars
    I love a well made congee and the one you cooked up looks amazing! Thank you for including the slow cooker instructions. Leaning towards that scenario:)

    1. You’re welcome, I definitely needed a slow cooker version myself too!

  3. Hi Meg!! I love this! You’re so right about being about to cook this up from only pantry ingredients. I usually have all these on hand and will make congee often. Actually I had no idea what I was going to make this week and this sounds sooo good! It’s hard when work gets more time consuming because it takes more time away from cooking!!

    1. Thanks, Amanda!! They’re such nice ingredients to have on hand right?! So perfect for when you’re really tired or busy.

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