In Life, Recipes

Recipe: The Alternative to a White Rice Congee, use Oatmeal instead

I am a fan of oatmeal in general, but I recently discovered a new way to eat it — in place of white rice in a congee.

A congee is kind of like a porridge soup that is savoury with green onions and meat or seafood.

I’m addicted to white rice, so I tend to avoid things liks brown rice or oatmeal in place of white rice in meals, however I am told this is quite bad for me, and while I don’t want to cut out white rice, I want to see if I can trick myself into eating other things.

As I usually make congee with white rice (Japanese short grain rice because it’s stickier, and starchier), and substituting oatmeal didn’t make much of a satisfying, taste difference, which surprised me!

It’s a healthier alternative because it isn’t white rice for one thing, and the other bonus is just how easy it is to prepare.

You could do the prep work the night before in little bowls, leave them in the fridge and have a great, satisfying meal in about 10 minutes.

HOW TO MAKE A CONGEE (25 minutes, max)


  • Cup and a half of oatmeal (I eat a lot, you can adjust this to what you like)
  • Water (added as you want to make it thicker, or soupier)
  • Some good chunks of grouper (my favourite kind of fish to have in congee)
  • Soft leafy vegetables (spinach, bok choy, any kind of leafy green veggie)
  • Sesame oil
  • Diced green onions (sliced very thinly; alternative: shallots are also delicious in a congee)
  • Diced ginger (about half a thumb’s worth, more or less, depending on your preference)
  • Pepper
  • Soya sauce
  • [Optional] Egg

PREPARATION 11 minutes (not even)

  1. Cut up the grouper into 1″ – 2″ sizes (5 minutes)
  2. Marinate the grouper in sesame oil (about a teaspoon) with a teaspoon of soya sauce (1 minute)
  3. The longer you let it marinate, the better, but the minimum is half an hour
  4. Dice the green onions and ginger (very finely so that you don’t get a big bite of either), and set it aside in a separate bowl (5 minutes)

Note: You can peel ginger without a knife. Use a spoon to scrape the thin skin off the ginger, your fingers will thank you.

METHOD OF COOKING (10 minutes)

  1. Add enough water in a pot to cover the oatmeal and bring it to a boil
  2. Add the oatmeal
  3. Cook the oatmeal for about 5 minutes or until it is properly cooked and soft
  4. Near the end after the oatmeal is super soft, put in the grouper, leafy greens, and the green onions with ginger, and mix it all around until the fish is cooked through (looks white and isn’t flobby or raw looking)
  5. [Optional] Crack in the egg, and let it sit for 30 seconds, then stir, or skip this step completely
  6. Pour it out into a bowl and finish it with a swirl of soya sauce
  7. Finish with some healthy grinds of pepper (I really like white pepper)
  8. Eat and make happy noises throughout the meal while your family members give you strange looks

It should pretty much look like this in the end:



Obviously you can do the same recipe but with white rice instead, but I’m really liking this oatmeal alternative.

You can do this with any kind of fish, salmon is nice too, but I find it a bit strong for such flavours, which is why I like grouper.

Don’t like fish? Use prawns (the good, big ones), sliced chicken or beef (marinated in the same preparation above) instead.

Don’t eat meat or seafood? Crack in an egg and add more vegetables, let it sit for 30 seconds, then stir it around (that way you get chunks of egg rather than it blending into a rich soup).

Don’t eat eggs either? Just chop in some vegetables (leafy greens work best). It tastes equally as good without meat or eggs, because the soya sauce adds some good flavour with the sesame oil.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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  1. Dee

    Very asian take on oatmeal likey..never thought of it..

    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Good for your body too, better than white rice.

  2. Michelle

    I love making chicken congee. I hadn’t thought about using oatmeal. I think I’ll give it a try!

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @Michelle: I was surprised at how I didn’t miss the rice 🙂

  3. cj

    That recipe is Yum-Yum healthy and I love the happy noises throughout the meal with strange familial looks;)

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @cj: I was just as surprised that it tasted good.

  4. Gen Y

    Interesting. I love congee and this is an alternative I’ve got to try. Do you use steel cut oats?

    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      @Gen Y: No, just regular 3-minute oats. They really blend nicely with the starch being released and you taste less of the husk or the grain, which makes it more rice-y.

  5. Nelson

    Nice try, but I’m pretty sure I’m still going to exclusively eat chips.


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