Lake and Garden Congee

Lake and Garden Congee

This lake and garden congee utilizes freshly caught bass from the lake and freshly picked summer vegetables from the garden in a bit of a twist on a classic Chinese rice porridge recipe.

Never wanting to waste a thing, I like to simmer the carcasses of bass after filleting, gilling, and gutting them (learn how to do that here) to make the stock for the congee, then pick the bones for all of the meat that usually gets left behind. 

If that process doesn’t appeal to you, you can always use store bought fish stock and fish fillets instead. Also feel free to use any type of white flaky fish (bass, pike, perch, walleye, even tilapia or sole) and swap out whatever you’ve got growing in the garden!

  • Prep Time20 min
  • Cook Time1 hr 40 min
  • Total Time2 hr
  • Yield4 servings


  • 2 filleted bass carcasses (bones, ribs, heads, tails – no gills, scales, or guts) 
  • 8 cups (2L) water
  • 3/4 cup (150g) brown rice
  • 1 large red tomato
  • 1 ear of corn on the cob
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 big handful greens (spinach, Malabar spinach, Swiss chard, mizuna, choy) sliced into ribbons
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 pinch white sugar (optional)
  • Handful of basil, torn into small pieces



Rinse off the fish carcasses. Put them into a large pot and cover with the 8 cups of water. 

Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, no longer. 


Pass the contents of the pot through a fine mesh sieve or colander lined with paper towel or cheesecloth into a large bowl to catch the liquid. 

Transfer the fish bones to a plate to cool. 


Rinse out the pot to be sure there are no bones left in it, then pour the liquid back into it. 

Add the rice and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly. 


Chop the tomato and throw it into the pot. 

Cut the corn off of the cob and set aside. Throw the corn cob into the pot. 

Add the tomato paste to the pot as well. 

Cook, uncovered and stirring regularly, for 1 hour and 30 minutes. 


While the congee is cooking, you can pick through your fish bones. There is lots of meat to be found in the cheeks, the lower jaw, the back of the head, along the ribs, and in the collar. Be sure to get rid of any little bones that may be clinging to the meat. 

Set aside the meat in a bowl and dispose of the leftover bones. 

fish meat separated from the bones


Remove the corn cob and dispose of it.

Try the rice at this point. It should be soft, but still holding its shape. You can finish off the soup at this point, but I like the rice to be a little more broken down and silkier, so I will usually cook it another 30 minutes or so from this point. You can continue cooking until the consistency reaches the point that you like, but you may need to add more water to prevent it from scorching. 

The longer you cook it, the softer and silkier it will be and the more you will need to stir it. 


When you’re happy with the consistency, add the corn kernels, garlic, salt, pepper, cherry tomatoes, and greens (not the basil!), and cook, stirring often, for another 15-20 minutes. 


Give it a taste, if the tomatoes you used are overly acidic, it may need a pinch of sugar to balance it out. You can add more salt if need-be at this point too. 

Stir in the fish meat, then take it off the heat. 

Ladle into bowls, and let it cool down for a minute before showering the bowls with basil leaves (if the congee is too hot, the basil will turn black). Enjoy!

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