Recipe: Congee (Rice Porridge)

by Michelle on October 8, 2009 · 2 comments

in Books,Healthy Breakfast,Healthy Dinner

Congee (Rice Porridge) Main Pic

Congee and Pickled Red Cabbage Salad

Ealier today I decided I wanted to make my first Congee (a.k.a. chokjook) for tea. As I had never ever made one I went to the internet and my little library of health food books for answers.

In Janella Purcell’s Book ‘Elixir’ (p.213) she says that a Congee (or rice water) is made up of rice and water to a ratio of 1:5 and is cooked to a consitency of a thin porridge. She also says that the most commonly used grain in a Congee  is Rice however, Millet and Spelt can also be used. Janella suggests cooking the rice and water for a minimum of 5 hours and on a very low heat. She says it is very good for those who are suffering from a chronic illness and the strained liquid is great for babies (cooled of course).

The next book  I had a look at was ‘Changing Habits Changing Lives: Cook Book’,  By Cyndi O’Meara . Cyndi explains that a Kongi (there  are many different spellings for Congee), a traditional asian dish, has been thought of as a meal that is good for cleaning the blood and the digestive system and that it is mostly eaten with savoury flavours rather than sweet.  She tells us that in Asian and Japenese hotels it is often eaten for breakfast. She suggests to cook it with 10 cups of water and to cook it for 12 hours.

In Healing with Wholefoods, Paul Pitchford, in his chapter on rice, says that congee, is a ‘gruel, consisting of a handful of rice simmered in five to six times the amount of water and it cooks for about six hours on the lowest heat possible’ (p.477). The longer it cooks, the more “powerful” it can become. Its healing properties (p.478) are that it can be easily digested and absorbed, it tonifies the blood, harmonizes the blood and it is nourishing.  He goes on to say that adding appropriate vegetables, grains, herbs or meats in the rice water can add other therapeutic values.

Okay so the general cooking consensus seems to be to cook the Congee for a very long time on a very low heat. And you can add vegies, grains, legumes, herbs or meats as you wish.

Back to Paul Pitchford’s book on (page 478) he lists 33 common rice based congees and ingredients you can add into them. I chose Carrot (digestive aid, eliminates flatulence), Celery (cooling in summer, benefits large intestine) and Ginger (warming and anitseptic to viscera; used for deficient cold digestive weakness: diarrhea, anorexia, vomiting and indigestion).

Recipe: Congee (Rice Porridge):

Congee (Rice Porridge)small


  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 kombu strip
  • 2 carrots, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small ginger bulb,minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of miso paste
  • 500g mince meat
  • 1 Tb. sesame seeds, for serving
  • 1 Tb. soy/tamari, for serving

How to make the Congee:

Usually when I make a dish with grains or legumes I will soak them with kombu for a while before I cook them, however due to the long period of time that this will cook I don’t find that neccesary, but I did use kombu in the cooking.

So first I measured out my 10 cups of water (5 just didn’t seem enough), poured it into my crockpot and  I added my 1 cup of rice and the strip of kombu. I put this onto the very lowest heat on the stove I could. I left this for about 3 hours (I started at 10:30 am) and then I added a small chopped bulb of ginger, my peeled carrots chopped into small bits, celery cut into tiny pieces, 2 cloves of garlic minced and left it to cook for a few more hours.

Later on I  took a cup of the water out of the crock and mixed into that water a teaspoon of barley miso paste, till it was blended well and I added it back into the congee (i’m sure you could also use rice miso aswell). I had a little taste of water and well it wasn’t bad at all!

When the congee had thickened up quite alot (at about the 10 hour mark) its time to cook the mince meat. I cooked it in soy and a smig of butter and olive oil in the pan till brown. With the heat off- I added a drop of sesame oil and stirred it into the meat.

When the congee was completely done (the water had reduced quite alot and the rice was oh-so soft) I topped it with thinly sliced spring onion, the cooked mince meat, and toasted sesame seeds.

My thoughts on Congee: It is a very warming and soothing dish, and would be great to have as a winter dish and when you are sick. It is a dish for those who like asian-style dishes and slowcooking.  Barley would also be a great grain to use in this dish, as well as trying other meats such as fish, organic chicken and pork. Tamari would be good to add a splash toward the end of cooking. Adding shiitake mushrooms could be great (soak them before hand in some water water for about 10 minutes). You could also put in a whole finely chopped onion. Beans would be good to. Corriander (cilantro) would add a nice kick aswell. The possibilities seem to be endless with the combinations you can make with a congee.  This can be a really frugal dish (the one cup of rices goes really far). You can put this on to cook before work or school and it would definitely be ready by the time you get home. So apart from the mince meat, this dish keeps you in the kitchen for not very long at all.

Happy cooking,

Health Food Lover.

Ps. This post was apart of Fight Back Fridays (October 9th) hosted by Food Renegade. Click below for more great posts by other Food Renegades!


Health Food Lover is Michelle Robson-Garth. Michelle is a degree-qualified Naturopath (BHSc) and Massage Therapist. She is also a passionate writer, recipe-creator and all-round foodie from Melbourne, Australia. © Copyright: 2009-2012 Michelle Robson-Garth. Please ask permission first when using any text or images on Read the disclaimer here. Have a look at the recipe index for more health food lovin’ recipes. Join the Facebook page & follow Health Food Lover on twitter.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie October 10, 2009 at 1:48 am

One of the great things about congee is that like tea you can add just about anything for different benefits. If you are just feeling fatigued you might try honey and pastured butter which can perk up energy. This is a great way to try it as a breakfast food as well. If it’s really cold, adding in some cinnamon can be helpful too.


michellesfhs October 10, 2009 at 8:07 am

Honey and butter sound like great additions to a congee! Oh and cinnamon would be lovely. I love Congee because its really simple and so easy to eat. And it doesn’t make you feel heavy like normal cooked rice would (well in my opinion anyway).
Thanks for commenting Bonnie!


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