The ultimate Chinese comfort food: Congee, or Chinese rice porridge (also known as Jook). If you are looking for something different to break up your breakfast routine, give congee a try. It’s a great comfort food and can be just the thing you need when you’re not feeling so well, or need something that is going to give you lasting energy. Eating warm food in the morning, especially in the winter, can greatly enhance one’s vitality and health. For thousands of years, Chinese families have routinely started the day with a bowl of congee, or rice porridge. Congee is easy to digest, and because of the way it is prepared, the nutrients are easily absorbed. Congee is especially appropriate for people with weak digestion, small children, those who are chronically ill or recovering from serious disease, and the elderly. In general it supplements the middle burner (digestive organs such as the pancreas, stomach, and small intestine) and boosts the body’s qi (energy). Congee is a great alterative to our typical Western breakfast.
Basic Congee Recipe
– 1 part rice*
– 4-6 parts water; this depends on your taste and how thick/thin you want it
– salt, scallions, fresh ginger to taste
This is easiest to do in a crockpot overnight so that it is ready in the morning when you wake up. Just add the water, rice and lamb to your crock-pot and set it on low for the night. When you get up in the morning cut up some scallions and fresh ginger to taste and add a little salt. Enjoy!
* Traditionally white rice is most often used in congee, however, virtually any type of grain (such as barley, millet, quinoa, oats, amaranth) or mix of grains can be used instead. Then comes the fun part! You can add all sorts of ingredients either before or after cooking. This includes small bite size pieces of meats (lamb, beef, pork) either before cooking in the crockpot or, if already cooked, just mix it into the hot congee. You can also add various nuts, seeds, vegetables or dried fruits.
A short list of “Common Congee” therapeutic dishes according to Traditional Chinese Medicine
You can add these ingredients with the rice and water to create a congee especially for you.
Aduki bean: Diuretic; helps edema and gout
Apricot kernel: Coughs and asthma, gets rid of phlegm and intestinal gas
Carrot: Digestive aid, eliminates flatulence and gas
Celery: Cooling in summer; benefits large intestine
Fennel: Balances stomach, expels gas; helps hernia
Ginger: Warming and antiseptic to organs; used for diarrhea, vomiting and indigestion.
Leek: Warming to internal organs; good for chronic diarrhea
Mung bean: Cooling, especially for heat in summer time; reduces fevers; thirst relieving
Brown rice: Diuretic; thirst-quenching; nourishing; good for nursing mothers
Spinach: Balances digestive system; relaxing, helps anxiety