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Start Your Day Right with Chinese Oatmeal Recipe

Chinese oatmeal, also known as congee or rice porridge, is a comforting and nutritious dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a versatile dish that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and can be made with a variety of ingredients to suit your taste. In this article, we will explore what Chinese oatmeal is, the essential ingredients and substitutes, a step-by-step cooking guide, serving and customisation options, storage and reheating tips, as well as health benefits and dietary considerations.

A bowl of steaming Chinese oatmeal topped with sliced fruits and nuts, surrounded by traditional Chinese teaware and a bamboo steamer

Chinese oatmeal is a whole grain dish that is typically made by simmering rice in water or broth until it becomes soft and creamy. It is a popular comfort food in many Asian countries, including China, Japan, and Korea, and is often eaten when someone is feeling ill or needs a warm and filling meal. Chinese oatmeal can be made with a variety of ingredients, including meat, seafood, vegetables, and spices, making it a versatile dish that can be customised to your liking.

If you are looking to add some seafood to your Chinese oatmeal recipe, you can try using shrimp, crab, or scallops. These seafood options are easy to cook and add a delicious flavour to the dish. You can also try adding some fish sauce or soy sauce to enhance the flavour even further.

What Is Chinese Oatmeal?

A bowl of Chinese oatmeal sits on a wooden table, topped with sliced fruits and nuts. Steam rises from the creamy, fragrant mixture, creating a cozy and inviting scene

If you've never heard of Chinese oatmeal before, you're in for a treat. This savoury breakfast dish is a popular alternative to traditional congee in Chinese cuisine. It's made by cooking steel-cut oats in chicken or vegetable stock until they become thick and creamy, then topped with a variety of savoury ingredients.

Origins and Cultural Significance

Chinese oatmeal is a relatively new addition to the Chinese breakfast table. It was first introduced in the 1980s as a healthier alternative to rice porridge, which was a staple breakfast food in China. Chinese oatmeal quickly gained popularity due to its simplicity, versatility, and heartiness.

In Chinese culture, breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. It's a time for families to come together and enjoy a warm, comforting meal before starting their day. Chinese oatmeal is often served with a variety of toppings, such as fried shallots, soy sauce, and chili oil, making it a delicious and satisfying meal that's perfect for any occasion.

Comparison to Traditional Congee

Chinese oatmeal is often compared to traditional congee, which is a rice porridge that's been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries. While both dishes are made by simmering grains in broth until they become thick and creamy, there are some key differences between the two.

Chinese oatmeal tends to be heartier and more filling than traditional congee due to the use of steel-cut oats. It's also a healthier option, as oats are high in fibre and protein. Additionally, Chinese oatmeal is more versatile in terms of toppings and can be customized to suit individual tastes.

If you're looking to switch up your breakfast routine, Chinese oatmeal is a delicious and nutritious alternative to traditional congee. Consider adding some seafood to your recipe, such as shrimp or scallops, for a unique and flavourful twist.

Essential Ingredients and Substitutes

A bowl of oats, soy milk, and honey with a spoon. A jar of chia seeds and a plate of sliced bananas on a wooden table

When it comes to making a delicious Chinese oatmeal recipe, there are a few essential ingredients that you will need to have on hand. Here are some of the most important ingredients and substitutes that you can use to make this recipe your own.

Types of Oats

The type of oats that you use in your Chinese oatmeal recipe will have a big impact on the texture and flavour of the dish. Rolled oats are a popular choice because they cook quickly and have a creamy texture. Steel cut oats are another option, but they take longer to cook and have a chewy texture. Instant oats are the quickest option, but they are often more processed and have a softer texture.

Protein Additions

Adding protein to your Chinese oatmeal recipe is a great way to make it more filling and satisfying. Eggs are a popular choice because they are easy to cook and add a rich flavour to the dish. Chicken, pork, and fish are also great options, but they will require more preparation and cooking time. If you want to keep your Chinese oatmeal recipe vegetarian, you can add tofu or tempeh for a protein boost.

If you want to try seafood in your Chinese oatmeal recipe, you can use shrimp or scallops to add a delicious flavour to the dish. Make sure to cook the seafood separately and add it to the oatmeal at the end of the cooking process.

Flavour Enhancers

To give your Chinese oatmeal recipe a delicious flavour, you can add a variety of flavour enhancers. Soy sauce is a classic choice, but you can also use tamari or liquid aminos for a gluten-free option. Sesame oil and chili oil are also popular choices for adding flavour and spice to the dish. Green onions, garlic, and ginger are great additions for adding depth and complexity to the flavour. Mushrooms are another popular option for adding a savoury flavour to the dish.

By using these essential ingredients and substitutes, you can create a delicious Chinese oatmeal recipe that is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Experiment with different combinations of ingredients to find the perfect flavour for your taste buds.

Step-by-Step Cooking Guide

A pot of boiling water with oats, soy milk, and Chinese spices. A wooden spoon stirring the mixture. A bowl of sliced fruits and nuts on the side

Preparation Techniques

Before you start cooking the Chinese-style oatmeal, you need to gather all the necessary ingredients and equipment. Here are the ingredients and equipment you will need:

  • Steel-cut oats
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Scallions
  • Fried shallots (optional)
  • Runny eggs (optional)
  • Seafood (optional)

To begin, rinse the steel-cut oats with water and soak them for at least 30 minutes. While the oats are soaking, mince the garlic and ginger, and chop the scallions.

Cooking Methods

Once you have all your ingredients prepared, it's time to start cooking the oatmeal. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. In a pot, bring the chicken or vegetable broth to a boil.
  2. Add the soaked steel-cut oats to the pot and stir.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and let the oats simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oatmeal is creamy and the oats are tender.
  4. Add the minced garlic and ginger to the pot and stir for a few minutes until fragrant.
  5. Add soy sauce and sesame oil to taste.
  6. If you are using seafood, add it to the pot during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  7. Serve the oatmeal in bowls and top with chopped scallions, fried shallots, and runny eggs if desired.

If you prefer a quicker cooking method, you can also microwave the oatmeal. Simply mix the oats and broth in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the oatmeal is creamy.

This Chinese-style oatmeal is a delicious and nutritious breakfast or brunch option. With a few simple ingredients and cooking techniques, you can enjoy a hearty and flavourful meal in no time.

Serving and Customisation

A bowl of Chinese oatmeal being customized with various toppings and served on a wooden table

Toppings and Variations

When it comes to toppings, the possibilities are endless. You can add a variety of toppings to your Chinese oatmeal to make it more flavourful and interesting. Some popular toppings include green onion, fried shallots, nuts (such as peanuts), cilantro, and chives. You can also add a poached egg, a soft-boiled egg, or a fried egg to your oatmeal for some extra protein and flavour.

If you want to add some seafood to your Chinese oatmeal, you can use shrimp, scallops, or crab meat. These seafood options will add a delicious and unique flavour to your oatmeal.

To add some crunch to your oatmeal, you can add some toasted sesame seeds or roasted peanuts. These toppings will add a nice texture to your oatmeal and make it more satisfying.


If you want to serve your Chinese oatmeal with some accompaniments, you can consider serving it with some steamed vegetables or a side of dumplings. Steamed broccoli, carrots, and snow peas are great options that will add some colour and nutrition to your meal. You can also serve your oatmeal with a side of dumplings, which will add some variety to your meal and make it more filling.

To enhance the flavour of your Chinese oatmeal, you can serve it with some soy sauce, hot sauce, or chili oil. These condiments will add some extra flavour and spice to your oatmeal and make it more enjoyable to eat.

Serving and customising your Chinese oatmeal is all about personal preference. Feel free to experiment with different toppings and accompaniments to find the perfect combination that suits your taste.

Storage and Reheating Tips

A hand pours leftover Chinese oatmeal into a microwave-safe bowl. A microwave door is open, and a hand reaches for the bowl

How to Refrigerate and Freeze

If you have leftover Chinese-style oatmeal, you can store it in the fridge or freezer for later use. To store oatmeal in the fridge, transfer it to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. You can also freeze oatmeal for later use. However, it's not recommended to freeze oatmeal congee as the texture may change upon thawing. If you do decide to freeze your oatmeal, portion it out into individual serving sizes so that you only use what you need. Scoop up 1 cup of oatmeal, place it into a plastic food storage bag, and freeze it. Repeat this step until all the oatmeal has been used.

Reheating for Best Quality

When you're ready to eat your leftover oatmeal, you can reheat it using a few different methods. The best way to reheat oatmeal is on the stovetop. Place your oatmeal in a saucepan, add a splash of milk or water to the oatmeal to prevent it from drying out, and heat it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it's heated through. If you're in a hurry, you can also reheat your oatmeal in the microwave. Place your oatmeal in a microwave-safe bowl, add a splash of milk or water to the oatmeal to prevent it from drying out, and microwave it on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring halfway through.

If you want to add some protein to your oatmeal, you can try adding seafood to your recipe. Shrimp or scallops would be a great addition to this Chinese-style oatmeal recipe. Simply add them to the pot when you're cooking the oatmeal and let them cook until they're pink and opaque. This will add some extra flavour and nutrition to your meal.

Health Benefits and Dietary Considerations

A bowl of Chinese oatmeal surrounded by various ingredients such as nuts, fruits, and seeds, with a steaming pot in the background

If you are looking for a nutritious and healthy breakfast option, Chinese oatmeal is a great choice. It is packed with essential nutrients and is also suitable for those who follow a gluten-free or vegetarian diet. Here are some of the health benefits and dietary considerations of Chinese oatmeal:

Nutritional Profile

Chinese oatmeal is a good source of fiber, which is essential for maintaining digestive health. It also contains protein, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc. These nutrients are important for maintaining a healthy immune system, supporting bone health, and promoting overall wellbeing.

Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Options

If you follow a gluten-free or vegetarian diet, Chinese oatmeal is a great option. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but it is important to ensure that they are not contaminated with gluten during processing. Look for certified gluten-free oats to ensure that they are safe to consume.

For vegetarians, Chinese oatmeal can be made with plant-based milk such as almond, soy, or oat milk. You can also add a variety of toppings such as fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds to make it even more nutritious and delicious.

Seafood Option

For those who enjoy seafood, Chinese oatmeal can be made with seafood such as shrimp or scallops. These seafood options are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining heart health and brain function. Simply sauté the seafood in a pan with garlic and ginger before adding it to the oatmeal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's a simple way to make Chinese-style oatmeal?

To make Chinese-style oatmeal, you can cook oats in chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of water. You can also add soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions for a savoury flavour. Another simple way is to add Chinese five-spice powder, cinnamon, and brown sugar to the oatmeal for a sweet taste.

How can I make my Chinese oatmeal healthier?

To make your Chinese oatmeal healthier, you can use steel-cut oats instead of instant oats. Steel-cut oats are less processed and have more fibre, which makes you feel full for a longer time. You can also add fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds to your oatmeal to increase the nutrient content.

Any tips for making Chinese oatmeal with an overnight method?

If you want to make Chinese oatmeal with an overnight method, you can use a slow cooker. Combine the oats and broth in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. You can add your favourite toppings the next morning and enjoy.

What are some sweet variations of Chinese oatmeal?

Some sweet variations of Chinese oatmeal include adding red bean paste, sweet potato, or pumpkin puree to the oatmeal. You can also add honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup for a sweet taste.

Could you suggest some savoury oatmeal recipes that could aid in weight loss?

If you want to make savoury oatmeal recipes that could aid in weight loss, you can try adding seafood such as shrimp or scallops. You can also add vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, and bell peppers to your oatmeal.

What's a traditional Chinese oatmeal drink called?

A traditional Chinese oatmeal drink is called "congee" or "zhou." It is a thick porridge made with rice or oats and can be served plain or with various toppings such as green onions, peanuts, and pickled vegetables.