Sweet Potato Congee is a Hokkien staple consisting of plain rice porridge and tender sweet potatoes. Usually eaten with side dishes and condiments.
It’s good to be home after a three weeks family vacation to Taiwan and Japan. This was a much needed vacation and we had a wonderful time. The boys and I have never been to Taiwan and so it was really fun. To my delight, I found that I was able to communicate using Hokkien which they refer to as the Taiwanese language. I think I was able to understand about 60% to 70% of what was said in the Taiwanese language and that was pretty cool! 🙂
The common Hokkien/Fujianese/Min Nan culture is the basis for Taiwanese food. Therefore, many of the dishes are somewhat familiar. Plain congee, alongside with white rice are staples. Similar to their Hokkien cousins, the Taiwanese also add sweet potatoes to their congee. In fact, sweet potatoes is a big thing on the island with the finest textured tubers being reserved for cooking in congee because these have far fewer fibers. Sweet potatoes are also roasted over charcoal as part of the street food offering, but that will be another story.
Taiwanese congee is taken with the same kind of side dishes similar to rice meals. These would be braised soy sauce pork belly, preserved radish omelet (chai poh nooi), and stir fry preserved radish and long beans (chai poh tao), just to mention a few. Taken together, these dishes are traditional daily food often referred to in our generation as “Grandfather’s meal”. So we were quite amused when the boys viewed the the same as a novelty, having no previous exposure to them. They especially liked the braised pork belly taken with congee or rice. The preserved radish omelet came in a close second.
Sweet Potato Congee – a Hokkien Staple
Prior to visiting Taiwan, I have not eaten Sweet Potato Congee since leaving my parents home a long time ago. Back then, the only kind of sweet potatoes available in Malaysia all had yellow flesh which were fine but I think orange colored sweet potatoes make a prettier Sweet Potato Congee. At a glance, you can almost mistake the sweet potatoes for salted egg yolks. As such, I went and bought some red garnet sweet potatoes to make the congee you see in these pictures.
Cooking the Sweet Potato Congee
To make this congee, the sweet potatoes are usually boiled together with the rice for about 30 minutes. This will often tint the congee yellow. Since I prefer my congee to be white, I steamed the sweet potatoes separately and only added them to the congee in the last 5 minutes of cooking. That worked out beautifully!
Similar Tools Used in Making This Sweet Potato Congee
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- 1½ cups rice (rinsed and drained) (300g)
- 10 cups water (2.4 litres)
- 12 oz sweet potatoes (cut into bite size pieces) (340g)
- Combine rice and water in a large pot. Turn on the stove and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove or tilt lid to prevent over boiling.
- Prepare a steamer. Steam sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.
- Remove and transfer to the pot with the congee during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Turn off heat and allow sweet potato congee to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve in individual bowls with side dishes and condiments.
I served this Sweet Potato Congee with Braised Soy Sauce Minced Pork, Preserved Radish Omelet (Chai Poh Nooi), and Stir Fry Preserved Radish and Long Beans (Chai Poh Tao). Be sure to check back as I will be sharing the recipes for these side dishes in the days ahead.