Congee is a traditional Chinese porridge. Normally it is made of rice and is eaten with meat, vegetables and/or herbs. It can be eaten for breakfast and is often given to ill people, as it is easily digestible. Some regions in China also use other grains to make their congee, including millet and barley.
Congee for breakfast is a great way to support the Middle Burner (“digestion” – see last month’s article on the middle burner). It is easy to digest and a good way to get your system energized for the day.
Here is a basic congee recipe:
Put 1 cup rinsed white rice, ½ cup this season’s grain (or other grains) and 8 cups water into a crock pot.
Add the nuts and spices that are a part of your element’s congee recipe. A handful of nuts and ½-1 teaspoon of the spice. Note: Not all additions are needed.
Turn crock pot onto “low” setting, and cook overnight. (If you don’t have a crock pot you can also cook it on the stove top for 1 ½ hours or so. The Chinese say that the longer you cook it, the more powerful it becomes!)
Wake up and enjoy warm congee. A sweetener like honey can be added to the all but the Water Congee.
Wood Congee (Spring)
Additions: green apple, blackberry
Earth Congee (Late Summer)
Additions: almond, apricot, date, fig
Fire Congee (Summer)
Additions: papaya, cardamom, citrus peel
Metal Congee (Autumn)
Additions: nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, anise
Water Congee (Winter)
Additions: seaweed, soy sauce, gomasio (sesame salt)
You can mix and match grains to find out what you like best. You don’t always have to use the “grain of the season”!
Stephanie Gianarelli, LAc, practices at Acupuncture Northwest & Associates in downtown Tacoma and downtown Seattle. She has been practicing for over 13 years and she occasionally gives talks around the Puget Sound on a variety of Chinese medicine topics.