Warm and soothing congee. What’s congee, you say?

Congee is a type of porridge that is very nourishing to the body and can be prepared in countless ways.  I particularly love it as a warm breakfast in winter, for soothing an upset stomach, or when recovering from an illness.  The most common grain to use is rice, but almost any grain—millet, barley, oats—or a combination of grains can be used.  The type of rice can be varied as well—white, brown, basmati, long-grain, short-grain, etc.  (Instant rice is not recommended.)  Congee itself is bland but becomes sweet or savory depending on your modifications.

Basic crock-pot recipe:

1 cup rice
6 – 8 cups water
Spices, garnishes as desiredchinese-soup-bowl-512x320

• Place all ingredients in a crock-pot
• Cook on low overnight
• Add seasonings as desired

Basic stovetop recipe:

1 cup rice
6 – 8 cups water
Spices, garnishes as desired

• In a large pot, bring the water and rice to a boil
• Turn the heat down
• Cook on medium low to low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice has the thick, creamy texture of porridge (1 – 4 hours)
• Add seasonings as desired

The best part of making congee is that you can tailor it to your own preferences. Here are some ideas to get you started. Have fun experimenting with your ideal blend!

To combine different grains, try:
• ¾ c rice + ¼ c millet
• ¾ c rice + ¼ c Job’s tears
• ¾ c rice + ¼ c wild rice

For liquid variety in a savory congee, try substituting half of the water with a vegetable- or meat-based broth (without MSG).

Savory ideas:
• Add pieces of cooked chicken, pork, or fish toward the end of cooking
• Add warming spices such as fennel, basil, or ginger
• Add ¼ – ½ c of lentils at the beginning of cooking
• Add pieces of a hard-boiled egg—or at the end of cooking, drop a lightly beaten egg in a slow steady stream into the congee and let it cook for another few minutes until the egg is done (like “egg-drop soup”)

Sweet ideas:
• Add cinnamon and cubed sweet potato at the beginning of cooking
• Add raspberries or hawthorn berries and a small amount of honey at the end of cooking
• Add a few almonds, a small amount of brown sugar, and some cloves at the end of cooking

Give it a try and let me know what your favorite variation is…

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