Porridge is a nice warm bowl of grains typically cooked in water or milk. It is often served for breakfast. Depending on where you live, it could be salty or sweet.
In Asia, porridge is also known as congee (粥). Uncooked rice to water ratio is often 1 to 10. They are cooked on stove on high until water is boiled. Then, fire is turned to low, rice is slow cooked for 90 minutes to 2 hours. The side dishes are savory. You could make your own savory dish, or go with the store brought toppings. In the left picture, there are the three most common toppings: pork floss, salted kale, and pickled mustard plant stem. I like the last one the best, it is salty and crunchy. It balances perfectly with the congee. For salty congee, the choice of grains is not just limited to white rice, other popular choice are millet, glutinous rice, brown rice. You can cook them in chicken stocks. You can even cook them with chicken or with pumpkin. Congee in China can also be sweet, ba bao zhou (八宝粥）has eight ingredients including goji berries, chinese red dates, black rice. Ingredients are cooked together on the stove. A simplified version of sweet congee is black rice boiled in water. You could add granulated sugar during and after the boiling.
In the west, porridge is typically referred to as oatmeal where rolled oats are cooked in milk for less than 10 minutes in a ratio of 1 to 3. Oatmeal takes less time than congee because oats absorb liquid faster. Less liquid is needed for oatmeal as less liquid evaporates during cooking. Oatmeal are often topped with fruits, cinnamon, honey or nuts. Fruits add freshness and sweetness to the creamy oatmeal. Nuts give the crunch. There are so many spinoffs on oatmeals such as chocolate oatmeal, vanilla oatmeal, matcha oatmeal where you add flavors to the oatmeal while cooking. The milk can be almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, you name it. The choice of topping is as much as your imagination. You don’t need side dishes, just pile them to your bowl and enjoy.
I love congee but I lack two hours of patience. Oatmeal is just as great, just as versatile. Despite one being salty, and one being sweet, both are healthy, filling and definitely bring a good start to your day!