Congee is a type of rice porridge enjoyed in most Asian countries and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine since ancient times. The practice of TCM teaches us that grains are mainly neutral in nature, supporting the spleen and stomach. The bottom line is rice aids in digestion. Congee helps relieve symptoms associated with nervous breakdown and promotes sleep in adults. It benefits children by encouraging the appetite, arresting sweating and preventing waking during the night. Also it is given to babies as a first “real” food or a substitute for mother’s milk.
There are many different foods and herbs you can add to a plain congee where each can act as a tonic for the body. Here are a few examples:
* Ginger to help circulation
* Garlic to help lower cholesterol and boost overall health
* Mullberry to nourish the whole body and promote production of blood
* Astragulus and Ginseng to replenish qi, invigorate the organs and promote sleep, and is suitable for people in poor health who have insomnia, memory problems and excessive sweating.
As you can see Congee, in particular, is considered a cure for most sicknesses. You can enjoy a simple congee in the morning for breakfast to increase appetite and start the day with something ‘soft’ in your stomach. Or you can enjoy it for a more substantial meal for lunch or dinner adding dried mushrooms, green onion, dried seaweed, sesame seeds, vegetables, and meat. The traditional method used for meat and fresh vegetables is to slice them super thin and marinate them in the fridge while the congee cooks. Congee is served extremely hot and upon serving the meats and vegetables are added letting the heat of the congee cook them.
So how do you cook congee? It’s super easy, especially if you own a crock pot.
For a basic plain congee add rice and water to a crock pot using a 1:10 ratio. Put on low setting and cook for ~8 hours. Really that’s it!
For this batch we used:
- 3/4 C Sweet Brown Rice (because this is all we had)
- 6 C Water
- ~2 T Date Pulp
You can add nuts and other dried fruits as well. I ate this as is, but I know some who enjoy it with a small amount of honey and ghee.
Soon I will venture down the savory road.
Here are some ideas for additions to a hot bowl of plain congee:
- Chili Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Tofu (I would use silken cubes)
- Chinese Greens: Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Tatsoi
- Green Onion
- Nuts & Seeds
- Any Vegetable: Sliced Pepper, Zucchini Matchsticks, Carrots, ect..
- Sesame Seeds
- Thinly Sliced Marinated Meat
You can also add some ingredients to the crockpot while cooking the congee:
- Cardamom, Cinnamon, Vanilla, ect
- Dried Mushrooms (Wood Ear)
- Sesame Seeds
- Freeze Dried Onion
- Whole Chicken Thigh (pull the bones out once cooked leaving the tender meat behind)
- Stock Cubes
Just try it!