Seafood congee is the ultimate comfort food. The rice is cooked into a tender, silky and rich broth that is full of goodies. This recipe reveals the secret of using dried scallop to create a super flavorful broth, totally effortlessly.
Everyone has a few comfort dishes deep down. Seafood congee is that kind of dish for me. It’s not the easiest thing to make. But it is so soothing and nice, that I miss it if I don’t have it at least once a week.
Although the dish is called seafood congee, it contains only a few ingredients – a handful of dried scallop and a few pieces of shrimp. However, it has such a rich flavor that you can hardly imagine it contains just water, and no chicken stock.
The star of this dish is dried scallop (conpoy, 干贝).
Dried scallop is made from the adductor muscles of scallops.Pungent and compact, it has a highly concentrated flavor of the sea. Different from dried shrimp, which are also widely used in Chinese cuisine, conpoy is known for its sweet and delicate aroma.
Dried scallop is a common ingredient in Cantonese cuisine. In northern China, we use it to infuse a rich, savory flavor into congees, soups, and sauces without adding any meat or seafood to the dish. So you can see, dried scallop is more like a stock cube, only with a better taste. It’s also edible itself.
There are two main types of conpoy: one made from river scallops and one made from sea scallops (also known as hotate in Japanese). We often use the river type, which has a milder and sweeter flavor. They won’t be particularly overwhelming in a light dish like this congee.
It’s quite magical, that you only need a few pieces of dried scallop to create a rich broth or sauce within minutes.
Dried scallop might not be a common ingredient in your pantry, but definitely grab it if you see it next time you’re at an Asian market. It lasts up to a year in the fridge, and even longer in the freezer. Whenever you’re out of stock or meat, just pop a few scallops into your soup. The rich flavor will surprise you!
I found that cold appetizers, such as cucumber salad, potato strips salad, and Bang Bang chicken, go great with this congee.
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- 1/2 cup (50 grams) dried scallop
- 1/3 cup (100 grams) rice
- 8 cup water
- 8 to 10 (100 grams) shrimp
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine (or Japanese sake)
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger , minced
- 3/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons green onion , chopped (green part)
- Rinse dried scallop. Place in a small bowl and tap water to cover. Let rehydrate for 2 to 3 hours.
- Rinse rice a few times and transfer to a large pot. Add 2 liters (8 cups) water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir a few times. Turn to medium low or medium heat. Cover the pot halfway to keep the water boiling without spilling. Cook for 30 minutes. Stir the congee a few times during cooking.
- Cut the shrimp down the center of the back into two thin pieces.
- Combine shrimp, Shaoxing wine, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
- Drain dried scallop. Tear into smaller pieces by hand. Set aside.
- When the congee has been cooking for 30 minutes and starts to thicken, add dried scallop. Keep cooking with the pot half covered, until the congee achieves the desired thickness, 15 to 20 minutes. Be careful, the congee will get quite thick and sticky towards the end. Stand close to the pot and stir frequently. It will easily spill if covered too much or if the heat is too high. The rice will stick to the bottom if you don’t stir enough.
- When the congee is cooked, add shrimp and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon ginger. Stir a few times. Stop heat immediately. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt or salt to taste. Stir well. Drizzle with sesame oil and scatter with green onion.
- Serve warm.
Questions and Reviews
I’ve heard of congee, but I’ve never had it! The recipe sounds absolutely delicious! Scallops are one of my very favorite seafood items, and this dish is certainly not lacking! Beautiful, Maggie 🙂
Hi Maggie! I’ve been looking for a shrimp/seafood congee recipe! I had it once in Guangzhou and it was hard to forget the rich creamy seafood-y yum-ness. I love reading your blog, and all the photos are artfully styled. Keep up the great work!
Congee definitely reminds me of travelling through Asia! Never tried a seafood version before though – but it does sound very delicious.
Ohhh those dried scallops make the congee SO DELICIOUS! I have to make this recipe. I’m not so successful with Chinese congee yet. Something is off, but now I’m more confident with your recipe. 😉
It amazes me that the ingredients list for this is so short. I can honestly say I have never made seafood congee at home. This looks incredible. It is going on my MUST MAKE list!!
Wow, I love scallops, Maggie, but I didn’t know there was such a thing as dried scallops! It’s incredible that they last for a year in the fridge!
You say this isn’t easy to make, but I can’t believe there are so few ingredients in it. Oh Maggie, if ever I get to China, I have a huge list of dishes I want you to make for me 😉
I hadn’t heard of seafood congee before, Maggie, but this is something I must try. I’m a shrimp addict and I can only imagine the beautiful flavours in this dish. And so few ingredients. Your pictures are beautiful. Wow – so excited to try this! This is a recipe for girls night 🙂
I’ve always been curious about dried scallop and what to do with it. Going to give this one a try – looks like the perfect comfort food and I’m a he congee fan too.
Yummm, I haven’t had congee in such a long time! (Mainly because I don’t go visit my mom in SF, hah!) My mom uses dried scallops, dried oysters, or dried fish head to make congee all the time, and I just LOVE the way those flavors mix with the rice. My mouth is watering right now as I’m typing this!
Your recipes look great as always. I will try this recipe for sure.
I love congee (I was introduced to it as a breakfast option on a cruise ship) so I’m very happy to see this recipe. I just wish my husband liked seafood…
I learn so much when I read your posts, I didn’t know about dried scallops just like Helen. This looks like such a delicious dish.
This recipe is so visual easy to follow ! Love the fact that you’re having step-by-step photos to guide us along the way !
Are you by any chance interested in becoming our recipe partner ?
I love this recipe!!! It reminds me of my mom’s shrimp congee , though we didn’t have dried scallops in Vietnam. I’ll try finding them in an Asian mart since you seem to recommend it very highly. What else can I do with them?
Thanks Chi! I think the dried scallop is a specialty of Cantonese cuisine, so you should able to find them at Asian market.
Besides congee, we also use them to make very simple soup. The method is almost the same with this recipe. You soak the scallop first and shred them into water (or any type of broth), and you could add veggies, tofu, and / or meat into the soup. The scallop adds a rich flavor to the soup, so it will taste quite nice with very few other ingredients. Sometimes we only use water and bok choy, and maybe drop an egg into the soup. Simple and tasty 🙂
This recipe looks delicious! Do you use cooked or raw shrimp in the dish? If you use raw does it cook when you add it in at the end?
Hi Cairo, I used the raw shrimp in this dish. It usually takes a few minutes to cook the shrimp, depends on the size. So I suggest adding them at the last 5 to 8 minutes.
Happy cooking and let me know how the dish turns out 🙂
mm that looks delish! can you take a picture of the bag of dried scallops so i can look for it next time i’m at the chinese market? thank you!! 🙂
Made this during a typhoon day in Taiwan. Family love it. Freeze the rice grains prior to cooking and it shorten the cooking time to 30 mins. This taste so good. Thanks Maggie! The recipes here always work magic.
I’ve been looking for this recipe widely and compared. Mostly this recipe used dried scallops. Is it ok to use fresh scallops? As I only found it in raw condition. Thanks in advance!
P.s having a thought to make it as it reminiscing my first seafood congee on flight years ago.
Hi Jazz, this recipe is designed for dry scallop so unfortunately, fresh scallop won’t work. The dry scallop has a very concentrated taste, it’s cheaper, and easy to store. That’s why it’s a popular way to cook the seafood congee in a Chinese home kitchen. I imagine you can poach scallops in the congee as well. But you will need to poach them in a very short amount of time (like you poach the shrimps). The congee will end with a slightly less seafoody taste.
Hi Maggie, You didn’t have the amount of water listed in your ingredients so when the recipes is reduced it still shows 8 cups in Instructions.
I just added the water to the ingredient list and now you can scale it up and down now 🙂
Dried scallops or dried baby shrimps are indeed very commonly use for our Chinese’s cooking, especially Cantonese, Hokkian and Teow Chew styles of cooking’s. Indeed, it taste better than those flavoring stocks / powders. If you say it’s complicated to cook this, I’ll say it’s quite easy actually, coz I too quite well verse in cooking as well. This congee / porridge the only thing is it takes up time. But if should one would preferred a more faster way, there is actually. By shorten the slow cooking of the porridge or rice first than later adds in the same method like yours. Also one can choose either using gas / fire from stove slow cook or just using the electric cooker. Off coz, for new beginner if they are not well verse in monitoring the fire and porridge, it’s highly recommended they use an electric cooker. In case one forgot to stir the pot and ends up burned the congee on below the pot … But I have another suggestion on this congee, may also adds in some slice fillet boneless fish meats and some baby squids … It taste more sweeter. And you’re right, the ginger too must be balance to eliminates the raw taste. Besides the ShaoXing wine, another option is use FaDiu wine, a type of Chinese’s sake (pardon me if I spell it wrongly). Another thing I finds, it’s hard to tell people exactly how many cups of ml of water they need to use, it all depends on individual’s judging when cooking. Coz some may use “large” fire and keep boiling the congee … Certainty it will be very soon dried up and becomes very thick. Some, they just don’t know how to balance the water and rice … Ended the dish became watery. I will say, along the way when cook, it all needs to monitor, if the congee is getting thicker, adds more hot boiling water but not chill water. It’s all very much to individual’s judging and monitoring, and tasting the flavors as well. So the flavors doesn’t gets thinner if adds more water. Also not too over flavor like too salty, too winery taste. But I must thank you for this delicious suggestion and your beautiful close up photo shoot, coz I’m describing a pot of seafood congee in my book (I’m authorising a novel so I need beautiful and ‘mouth watering’ close shot photos to add in for readers, perhaps makes them hungry … LOL ! But I think it’s good in another matter, introducing our rich Chinese’s cookings and our delicacies … Not just always goes by burgers, pizzas, pastas, salads … It’s boring) As you knew, even the Caucasians they are very fond in our Chinese delicacies. Especially I finds lots of them love the stew grilled chicken goes with the black soy sauce noodle “WanTon” noodle. It’s kinda funny and cute seeing them loving this particular dish of noodle. Anyways, thanks a lot.
This was great! I made it for dinner tonight. I was able to find the dried scallops at a local Asian grocery store. In addition to the ingredients listed in your recipe, I added shiitake mushrooms and a little minced garlic. Once plated I added a dash of low sodium soy sauce and chili oil. Very comforting dish!
OK, this be be getting downright silly, but what type of rice do you use: short, medium, or long grain?
I used short grain rice. Highly recommend to use short grain in congee because it create a creamier texture. Long grain won’t work.