Besides being an everyday meal for many Chinese, congee (often called jook) is considered a staple for treating sickness and imbalance, much like homemade chicken soup proves comforting, strengthening and restorative.
Although Chinese congees vary from region to region, it is fundamentally a porridge made from white rice. Different meats, vegetables and seasonings can be added for flavor and texture, as well as for their therapeutic value. Congee can be made from brown rice or other grains like cornmeal, millet, barley, and sorghum. Multigrain congee mixes are popularly sold in the health food sections of Chinese supermarkets.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, some foods are considered especially healing. The idea of balancing yin and yang in one’s diet takes shape in Chinese cooking; it is ideal to eat both types to keep the body healthy. Dietary therapy provides a powerful tool for correcting disharmonies and can be used in conjunction with acupuncture, herbal medicine and exercise to restore balance to the mind and body.
How to Make Basic Chinese Congee
The proportion from rice to water is usually 1 part rice to 6 parts water and it is slow simmered, cooking for a few hours. An alternate means of preparation is to use fresh left-over rice and add 4 parts water.
1 cup long rice
6 Cups water
Add rice and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for about one and a half hours, stirring. Node 21 not found desired to linking .
Millet-Sweet Potato Congee Recipe
This sweet version makes a delicious breakfast using an alternative to rice. You can also use apples or pears instead of sweet potatoes. This sweet version makes a delicious breakfast using an alternative to rice. You can also use apples or pears instead of sweet potatoes.
1 cup millet
6 cups water
1 cup peeled diced sweet potatoes (raw or cooked)
1 slice peeled fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
4 tablespoons honey
Optional: chestnuts or walnuts
• Rinse and drain the millet.
• Put all ingredients except honey and cooked sweet potatoes (if using)
in a medium saucepan.
• Bring to a boil.
• Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until it forms
a porridge- 1 hour or so.
• If you are using cooked sweet potatoes, add them at the end
and stir until hot- this will yield a chunkier porridge;
raw ones cooked for an hour pretty much dissolve.
• Turn off the heat.
• Stir in the honey.
• Ladle into bowls.
Cooking Tips and Options for Congee
• Add 3-5 chicken parts, diced (breast or thigh, which ever you prefer),
pork or fish (white flesh) about 30 minutes before end of cooking.
• Add salt and pepper to taste at the end of cooking.
• If you like smoother congee, cook for longer and add more water
as needed. If you like chunkier congee, cook for less time
and use less water.
• Put water, rice and other ingredients in a slow cooker,
and cook on low heat for 4 – 6 hours.
• Add chicken or turkey bones to the boiling process, or to the cooker.
Just like traditional chicken soup, the bones provide essential
nourishing nutrients that strengthen the body.
• Try marinating the chicken in oyster sauce, Chinese wine/sherry,
soy sauce, pepper, sugar, worcestershire sauce and sesame oil before
adding it to the cooking congee after about an hour.
• Boil the rice (or cook in a slow cooker) with added ginger
and garlic for flavor
• Add carrots and/or broccoli in the last fifteen minutes of cooking.
• For alternative protein instead of meat, add two eggs to the congee
at the end of cooking, stirring well.
• Try various garnishes: pickled ginger, green onions, cilantro, peanuts,
chili oil or white pepper.