January 29, 2024

Fish Congee 魚粥

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Congee love!  More congee goodness!  We move onto the fabulous traditional Cantonese Fish Congee  魚粥 which is my favorite congee of all time!  Smooth creamy warm congee with just cooked, tender and delicious pieces of fish, what more could a gal ask for?

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You must make the basic congee first before you can make the fish congee.  Basic congee is just plain white congee.  Please check out our recipe for Basic Congee with Dried Scallops and Tofu SkinPssst...if you don't have dried scallops or tofu skin, it's fine, just make the recipe with out those two ingredients and you'll still end up with delicious basic congee.

Proper cantonese style basic congee takes time and love to make, so you gotta clear a bit of schedule to make it.  Once it's done, keep it warm and proceed to the making of the fish congee.  Or make it the day before and store in fridge overnight.

Cantonese style fish congee is made with grass carp 鯇魚. This meaty and versatile fish cooks up tender but doesn’t fall apart, making it a favorite for all kinds of fancy as well as simple fish dishes.

Grass carp is always sold in the supermarket fresh fish sections cuz it's that popular in Hong Kong.  Also the wet markets have vendors that only sell fresh water fish, aka grass carp.

In congee shops fish congee usually has two options for the cut of the fish.  You can order it with thin fish slices or with slender fish steaks like in the photo above.  Both are nice, it’s up to your preference.  Mind you that the carp does have bones.  If you go the steak route you'll have some bigger bones that you can pick out as you eat.  If you go the thin slice route most of the bones pieces will be sliced so small you can just ignore them.

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These are the aromatics that we use to pan fry the fish with.  A bit of ginger and a bit of spring onion.  It’s important to pan fry the fish first in order to ramp up the flavor factor and clear out any hint of fishiness.

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Fish paste balls!  This addition to the fish  is yummilicious but optional.  Start with dace fish paste 鯪魚滑 which you can buy at the wet markets from most of the fish vendors.  They will usually have a tub of this stuff in a bucket.

Once you've got the actual dace fish paste you will need to mix it with minced dried shrimp, minced dried tangerine peel and roughly chopped cilantro.  Next step is so much fun!  Gather the paste and throw forcefully back into the bowl...again and again... wham...bam...!  Total tension release!  Why this kerfuffle, you ask?  To lighten and and make the paste bouncy.

For more info on the making and different ways of eating, check out our detailed Dace Fish Ball recipe, made and perfected by my hubby, bless his food loving soul.  This is soooo good, this fish paste.  Like knock your socks off good.  So if you got the time, try adding fish paste balls and raise your fish congee to an even highter level!

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This final addition to fish congee is not optional, at least not to me.  To me the addition of century egg 皮蛋 to the fish congee provides the perfect finishing touch, the perfect contrast and compliment of texture and taste.

The super smooth texture of the century egg white and the sticky creaminess of the yolk provide contrast to the creamy texture of the congee.  The rich pungent umami of the century egg is a good counterpoint to the lighter, more subtle flavors of the rice and fish.

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Okay, you've made your basic congee and prepped all your ingredients, it’s time to start putting the fish congee together!  First we pan fry the fish with the aromatics of ginger and spring onions to release flavors, caramilize and clear out any fishy flavors.  Mind you that the best method for avoidance of sly fishy flavors is to use super fresh fish!

Once the fish is turning golden in spots, you’re ready for the next stage.

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What is the next stage?  It’s adding the basic congee!  Whoee!  Here we go!  Just dump all that creamy congee in!

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All the dang congee is in.  Time to add the fish paste, if using.  Use a spoon to scoop out little fish balls and slip it into the congee.  Oh my gosh, just look at that!  Gorgeous!

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Once the fish paste is about cooked, it’s time to add in the final and totally necessary addition (in my humble opinion), the century eggs 皮蛋.  Yeah for these black eggs, so delish!  

Just slice them and add them into the congee to warm through.

Once everything is warm, your traditional fish congee is ready to go. Scoop into bowls and top off with a wee bit of cilantro and peanuts.  Then it's straight to the table and then straight to your tummy!  Gosh, it’s been such fun making and scarfing down these congees at home.  The big revelation we’ve had is how much better the homemade congee is than when we go out to eat congee.  Who knew, amirite?  But then again not really that surprised.

People, seriously, try this at home.  You W.I.L.L  N.O.T. be disappointed.  Classic Cantonese Fish Congee 魚粥...yumm...

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Fish Congee Recipe   魚粥
(makes 4 bowls)  Prep time: 15 mins  Cook time:  12 mins


    Fish Congee
  • 1 pot of basic congee ( please click for our recipe)
  • 10 oz piece grass carp 鯇魚, 300g
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 stalks spring onions, sliced to sections
  • 6 slices ginger
  • 2 century eggs 皮蛋, each peeled and sliced to 6 wedges
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro (for topping)
  • 3 tbsp fried peanuts (for topping)

    Fish Paste 


Make the basic congee first, following our recipe link.  Note that you don't have to use dried scallops or tofu skin if you don't have it.  Just omit those and follow the recipe.  But I recommend you do try if you can, it's really extra, extra yummy with those ingredients in.  As the congee takes kinda long to make I recommend to make it the day before. And keep in the fridge overnight.

Make the fish paste:  Mince the dried shrimps and tangerine peel.  Mix the minced dried shrimp, tangerine peel, cilantro, salt and pepper with the dace fish paste.  Mix thoroughly.  Then pick up and throw with force back into the mixing bowl, about 20 times.  The texture of the paste will lighten and become bouncy and shiny.

Cook fish congee:  Slice the grass carp into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Pat dry with paper towel.  Heat pan big enough to hold basic congee over medium hot.  When pan is hot add oil, swirl, and then add the ginger, spring onions and fish slices.  Let cook until some golden browning appears, flip and repeat.  Remove ginger slices.

Add in all the basic congee.  Once the congee is hot use a spoon to scoop up the fish paste into equal sized balls and add to the congee. Turn heat to low to prevent congee from burning.

Once the fish paste is almost cooked, about 2-3 mins, add in the century eggs.  Let cook another 2 mins or until everything is the same temperature.

Scoop congee out into serving bowls, making sure to divide the fish slices, fish balls and century eggs evenly among the bowls.  Top with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and fried peanuts.  Enjoy the congee!


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