Congee – Winter warmer and family health tonic!

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Congee is a rice porridge commonly eaten in Asian countries. It is considered to be strengthening for the body and digestive system, so is regularly given to the ill or weak. It is easily broken down by the gut so nutrients are readily absorbed making it a great tonic. Nursing mothers can also benefit from ingesting this often.

Using a ratio of 1:5 or 1:6, rice to liquid, the grain is slow cooked for at least a few hours but the longer the better. Often a slow cooker is left on overnight and congee is served as a lovely warm breakfast! If you have ever been to a 4 or 5 star resort you will usually find congee on the breakfast buffet.

The consistency once cooked should be a thick rice soup.

Using rice and water as the base, any additions can be made at any stage of the cooking process – meats, vegetables, spices, herbs, condiments. In the west sometimes congee is used as an alternate to an oat porridge – eaten with cinnamon, dried fruits and yoghurt.

Some lovely additions to congee include:

  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Spring onions
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  • Leek
  • Bean sprouts
  • Red capsicum
  • Peppercorns
  • Sesame seeds
  • Spinach
  • Adzuki beans

You can use brown rice instead of white, or barley, or quinoa for variety.

There are plenty of congee recipes online or you can get creative and come up with your own. My favourite is to use brown rice with homemade chicken stock, and then once cooked I add grated ginger, tamari, coriander and spring onions.

The instructions to make congee are very simple. Wash your chosen grain and place it into a slow cooker or pot with either stock or water at a ratio of 1:5 or 1:6. If using the stove, bring to the boil and then reduce to low. If using a slow cooker just switch on. Cook for at least a few hours until a thick soup consistency is achieved. It should have a milky look to it. You can always add more liquid if needed.

Accompaniments can be added at anytime depending on how long you wish them to cook for. If using dry legumes I suggest adding them at the start or an hour or two before the finish. For fresh tasting spices, herbs or veges, add before serving.

Congee is great for the kids too. I chop up some things and allow my kids to choose what they want to add.

A great winter warmer and health tonic for the whole family! Happy creating!

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