Khao Tom For Breakfast: The Thai Cousin Of Chinese Congee
Image Credit: Khao Tom, a rice porridge

Thai cuisine is an amalgamation of a variety of subtle flavours. While the use of certain ingredients is specific to the fare, there are interesting dishes that are made taking inspiration from other Asian cultures. If Thai green curry and Tom Yum soup are all that you’ve known as Thai food, you haven’t even touched the elaborate breakfast fare yet.

The influence of the West is quite evident in the culture as Thai people too eat cereal and porridge for breakfast. However, the way it is made and served is different. The popular Thai porridge called Khao Tom is a classic breakfast treat in the region. Also considered a rice soup, this dish forms an important part of aahan chow, which is the name given to morning meals in Thai culture.

The thin rice porridge is made with boiled rice. The rice is then paired with loads of meat, including chicken, beef, or pork. Finally, a range of condiments are served alongside to spruce up the flavour of the dish. Just like one would have oatmeal for breakfast in some parts of the country, the Thai people like to combine the light breakfast with protein and turn it into a filling meal.

Whether it is a porridge or a soup is something that is still debatable but what has been drawn as an instant connection is the fact it is a close cousin of the Chinese congee. How, you ask? For the unversed, congee is a kind of rice porridge that is believed to have originated in China. The porridge is usually plain but sometimes flavourings are added to it. These could be in the form of protein like meat or there are sweeter versions of the congee too.

Given the similarity in ingredients and texture, the comparison is often drawn between a congee and Khao Tom from Thai cuisine. The only point of difference lies in the fact that the Thai version is thinner and lighter as well as less mushy than the Chinese congee. Khao Tom can be thought of as a cross between a porridge and a broth-based rice soup. While meat added could be that of chicken, beef or pork, the condiments that usually accompany the dish are fish sauce and red peppers which are dried and then crushed.

Apart from meat, even seafood like shrimps can be added to the soup-like dish. For the egg lovers, you can always top it with a poached egg and make a nutritious and filling breakfast. It is easy to cook and requires only a few ingredients. Herbs like lemongrass as well as things like Thai ginger called galangal are also added to lend flavour to the broth. The meat is generally ground properly before being added to the bowl.