As comfort food goes in Chinese culture, you can’t get much more ubiquitous than congee. Congee is a rice porridge made by slowly cooking rice in liquid. Though there are innumerable recipes for how to make it, it’s really something that can be modified any way you like once you know how to prepare it.
Congee can be eaten any time of the day, and is often eaten as a breakfast or brunch food. I still remember my first time in China, sitting in a café in Beijing at 5am after having just arrived on a painfully delayed flight, and having that steaming bowl placed in front of me. Even now in my mind I still taste heaven.
Congee is known in Chinese medicine as a food to be eaten when recovering from an illness. Rice helps to nourish Spleen Qi and Resolve dampness. Ginger, garlic, and scallions are all pungent and help to resolve exterior pathogens. Though congee can be made with water, it tastes best when cooked with chicken, beef, or vegetable broth- bonus points for bone broth, which gives you immune system additional love.
Beyond that, you can add anything you like to your congee. Adding herbs like goji berries, dates, and licorice will help nourish Qi and Blood, or add meat and/or vegetables for a delicious meal your body will thank you for. So, if you’re staring at a bunch of rice in your kitchen and wondering what to do with it, then maybe it’s time to make a batch of congee. Check out my basic recipe below, then customize to your liking. Enjoy!
Basic Congee Recipe
1 cup Jasmine rice
10 cups liquid (water or preferred broth)
1tbsp canola or olive oil
1tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1tsp garlic, finely diced
1tbsp scallions, sliced
Soy sauce, to taste
Rinse rice in cold water until water is mostly clear.
In a stockpot or large saucepan, heat 1tbsp oil until hot, then add the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add rice and liquid, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 1-2 hours, stirring frequently, until the liquid has mostly been absorbed and the rice is a soupy consistency (if the congee gets too thick, simply add more liquid until reaching desired consistency).
Stir in soy sauce to taste.
Garnish with scallions.
(written by Molly)