Congee, also known as jook is a medicinal porridge made out of grains and consumed as part of a regular meal or as a delivery system for medicinal foods or herbs. I’ve included this congee recipe here as I often recommend patients of mine to include congee in their diet and to include herbs in it. Please see the list of grains below as they are often key to creating a recipe that will best suit an individuals constitution or condition. Expect to see more interesting variations on this classic remedial dish as time goes on.
You will need:
1 part rice or grain (see list below of actions and indications for various grains)
8 parts water or broth
Various herbs, meats, fruits, etc. as desired (see variations below)
Combine rice and liquid and cook overnight in a slow cooker or crock pot, or on the stove over a 2-4 hour period. If you intend to poach an egg or seafood in this you will want it to be on the soupier side and even add more water. If you are using some of the beans mentioned below, it may make them easier to cook and digest to soak them over night before attempting to cook them.
- cooking tasty things into the porridge – grains, fruits, nuts
- grinding herbs into powder as if they were grain or flour – Ge Gen, Shan Yao, Poria
- cooking herbs separately and adding this to the grain
Common grains added to congee and their beneficial effects.
Most of these terms are Chinese medical terms and may not make too much sense to most laypersons. Even if much of this terminology means little to you, it will give the one a glimpse into how they might see food as medicine.
White Rice - slightly cool and sweet, for Stomach. Moistens Yin, clears heat, promotes diuresis, reduces swelling.
Brown Rice - neutral and sweet, nourishes Spleen and Stomach. Quenches thirst, alleviates irritability, astringes intestines, stops diarrhea.
Pearl Barley - cool and bland, G/B/ Spleen, Stomach. Promotes urination, clears heat, detoxifies.
Wheat - slightly cool and sweet. Clears heat, quenches thirst, relieves restlessness, promotes diuresis, calms spirit, stops sweating.
Millet - cool and sweet – stops vomiting, relieves diarrhea, astringes the stomach and intestines, soothe morning sickness.
Quinoa – warm, sweet and sour-supports kidney yang (Pitchford).
Cornmeal - neutral and sweet. Tonify qi, strengthen the stomach and spleen, benefit the heart, diuretic, stimulate the flow of bile.
Aduki bean - neutral, sweet and sour. Strengthen spleen, benefits diabetes, clears heat and toxin, reduces dampness, benefits kidneys
Soy Bean - cool and sweet. Clears heat, detoxifies, eases urination, lubricates lungs and intestines, provides excellent protein.
Mung Bean - cool, sweet, Organs: Stomach, Heart, Spleen – tonify qi and blood, sedate excess yang, nourish yin, counteracts toxins.