This Kick-Ass Congee Ain't No Watery Porridge

Photo by Leslie Kelly
Go ahead and dunk those doughnuts in this breakfast bowl.
Congee is considered the ultimate comfort food in half the world, a slurpy gruel made of rice cooked beyond soft. It's what you eat when you're feeling crappy, which helps explain why most of it tastes as bland as Wonder Bread.

That's what I thought, anyway, until my friend, Stephanie, kindly offered me a bite of her congee from Seatown, the Tom Douglas joint at Pike Place Market, and a fantastic flavor bomb went off in my mouth. Over the next week, I went back three more times just to see if it really was all that. And it was. I'm officially hooked.

This version, tinkered with by Seatown's super-duper chef de cuisine, Adrienne Lasko, is rice simmered in pork broth and finished with tender chunks of pulled rotisserie pig.

The bowl is topped with chili sauce spiked with ginger and spices, chopped scallions, and dried shrimp. And if that wasn't already swell enough, there's also a poached egg swimming in the mix. I "heart" poached eggs, big-time.

Yeah, and those savory doughnuts served on the side? They're meant for dunking. The crispy critters are full of pockets to soak up the congee, which has turned into a wild-hued stew because it's impossible to resist stirring everything all together.

As I dunk and chew and dunk some more, I start scheming about opening a new breakfast restaurant: The Hot Cereal Spot. The menu would be stuffed with cereal and complementing carbs: oatmeal with maple bars on the side. An apple fritter to sop up Cream of Wheat. Grits and cheese biscuits. Brilliant, right?

Until I get some backing for that red-hot business plan, I'm going to make it a priority to get congee at Seatown as often as I can. It's on the breakfast menu daily.

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