Congee for recovery

On a cold winter day, there is nothing quite like a hot bowl of congee to warm your body. Congee [KON gee], also known as jook or juk, is a rice porridge commonly served for breakfast in China. Bland in taste, it acts as a base for many toppings, including ginger, scallion, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish, peanuts, shrimp, and eggs.

Made with one part rice to about sixteen parts liquid, congee is easy to digest and tonifies the body, so it is often given to weak or frail people.

To make congee, rice is boiled in lots of water or broth until the grains have grown many times their size and are still swimming in excess fluid. The grains may also be cooked down until they completely disintegrate and become the texture of creamy rice cereal. Made either way, congee is very nutritious and highly recommended for people suffering from fatigue, digestive problems and illness. It is easy to digest and contains nutrients in ready form to be absorbed and used, thereby enabling quick revitalization of the body. What better way to break the fast of the night and begin a new day of productive activity than to partake of a vitalizing bowl of steaming rice soup!


All of these recipes can be made in a slow cooker! For best results in the slow cooker, use a 1:3 ratio of cups of rice to liters of water. Ie. 1 cup of rice, add 3L of water. If you like your congee with a thinner consistency, add more water or broth as desired.


Cream of rice breakfast congee

  •  ½ cup short-grained rice
  • ½ cup glutinous rice (or just 1 c short grain rice)
  • 6 c. Chinese chicken broth, or 6 c. regular chicken broth with 2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 slice ginger the size of a quarter       (can omit soy sauce)

Wash rice. Place in pot with Chinese chicken broth, or regular chicken broth to which soy and ginger has been added. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook 2 hours partially covered, stirring frequently. Soup is done when it reaches a porridge-like consistency. Remove ginger slice if you have added it. You can add chopped bok choy, or small slivers of chicken. Leftover turkey after a Thanksgiving meal is another great addition, and a turkey carcass can provide a nice broth instead of chicken soup.


 Cold Winter Congee

The following congee is prepared with astragalus root. Astragalus is a herb that is native to China. It is used to relieve weakness and fatigue and to enhance stamina and immunity. Many people take astragalus in the winter to prevent colds and flu, however, it is generally not taken acutely once colds or flu begin.

  •  1 oz. astragalus root*
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
  • 8 cups of water or stock
  • 12 black dates, soaked and pitted
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, diced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp. powdered cardamom seed

Place all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 to 2 hours until congee is soft and the consistency of porridge. Remove the astragalus root. This congee can be served with a dash of cinnamon and a pat of butter.

*There are no major drug interactions with astragalus. People with autoimmune disease, cancer, or other illness should consult a health practitioner. Astragalus root can be found at Asian herb shops or selected health food stores. It is a dried, slightly yellow root approximately 5 inches in length.


Jook (congee) with turkey

  •  Turkey bones
  • 1/2 cup rice, uncooked, washed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon rock salt (or to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • Chopped lettuce – for garnish
  • Chung choi, chopped fine (Chinese salted preserved cabbage)
  • Chinese parsley, chopped
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Shoyu or oyster sauce
  • Sesame oil

Put bones, water, and rice into a slow cooker and cook on low heat for 4 – 6 hours. Place each of the garnishes in individual small bowls, and serve jook in separate bowls. Place garnish on tables and let everyone garnish to their own taste.
**Other ingredients you might want to use as garnish include Chinese pickled vegetables, sliced salted duck eggs, and chopped daikon.



Congee Rice Gruel

Serves 6-8

  •     1 c Long grain rice
  •     3 qt Stock [chicken or vegetable]
  •     2 tb Minced Chinese preserved turnip (can omit)
  •     1 sl Ginger root, minced
  •     1   Piece tangerine peel, soaked (to soften), minced
  •     Sea Salt
  •     Garnish of: Chopped green onion
  •     Chopped coriander
  •     Slivered ginger (fresh or preserved)
  •     Sliced tea melon


Combine rice, stock, preserved turnip, ginger and tangerine peel in large soup pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer uncovered 1-1 1/2 hours, or until rice is thoroughly broken up. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and add boiling water if necessary. When done, soup should be thick and creamy. Add salt to taste, garnish with any or all of the suggested garnishes. Variations: just before serving, add cooked chicken, pork, ham or beef; or add diced forest mushrooms soaked to soften or dried shrimp.






Chicken Rice Congee

Serves 4


  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 21/2 cups canned chicken broth diluted with 3 1/2 cups water, or 6 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 1 TB extra-light olive oil
  • 2 TB finely shredded fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded scallions
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves


In a medium saucepan, combine rice and broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce to low, and simmer two hours or until soup is thickened and grains of rice have “flowered” (the ends of the grains will actually blossom outwards). When ready to serve, in small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add ginger, scallions, and salt, and cook, stirring, until scallions are just limp, about one minute. As an alternative to frying in the skillet, steam ginger and scallions gently over the cooking rice. Ladle congee into soup bowls. Divide chicken and scallions mixture among the bowls. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately.


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