Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Simple Chicken Broth Congee

Comfort food for an Asian family should include a hot steaming bowl of congee (or jook in Cantonese).  Hubby had a medical course down in Vancouver for the weekend and somehow, the baby got the stomach flu.  I wasn't sure if it was something bad she ate or a bug, but the next two days, she was fine.  On the day we left, she had diarrhea and vomiting during our 7-ish hours of driving back home.  Not pretty.  Actually, it was downright nasty.

We were very happy to come home!  Then the next day, the middle child got sick with a bad cold bug.  To replenish everyone's fluid loss, a nice hot comforting bowl of congee is what *Dr. Michelle* ordered.  

Congee is a rice porridge.  Much like making oatmeal porridge, rice and water is used instead, along with some savoury add-ins.  Chinese restaurants offer this with different kinds of meat, dried oysters, preserved duck egg and peanuts.  The possibilities are endless.  

I noticed that every Chinese family has their own version.  It depends on what tiny village from China they come from and the condiments they use.   There are so many different tricks and tips used to make a smooth, velvety bowl.  For example, some mix washed rice with some vegetable oil and then soak overnight before cooking. Some people like theirs thick, some runny.  It is all a matter of preference.  I haven't tried using brown rice, but I'm sure that would be good too.  I just made this simple as the children were sick and I didn't think far ahead to soak the rice the night before!  

In our case, I made it on the runny side to increase fluid intake.  Rice is also part of the BRAT diet:  Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast, which is good for those with tummy issues.  

I decided to document this recipe for my kids, as I should have asked my parents how to make it but always forgot.  Besides, they would end up telling me to put rice and water together and cook until done!  

I like using a 1L box of chicken broth, as it always comforting when feeling under the weather.  I prefer to use organic low sodium chicken broth, but I tried no salt chicken broth, as it is a relatively new product in the stores and it was on sale. 

My recipe is pretty straight forward.  I washed 1 cup of white long grain rice (I used jasmine rice), added 1 box of chicken broth (roughly 4 cups) and then added 3 boxes of water (about 12 cups).  Yes, 16 cups of total fluid!  

Let it come to a boil and simmer for about 2.5-3 hours, covered.  After an hour or so, the rice grains will look fat and bloated.  Eventually, they will break up and then look smoother and thicker, like oatmeal.   It takes time.  I'm sure there is a quicker way.  

Season to taste, as the salt content is dependent on the brand of chicken broth used.  With Campbell's No Salt Added Chicken Broth, I added about 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt.  You can always add more salt when serving.  This recipe can be easily halved, as it makes a lot and it is pretty runny, like thin oatmeal.  I would have liked to add an extra 1/4 cup rice, but it will thicken as it sits.  In retrospect, better to make it thicker and then add more water to thin it out than to have it too runny.  

Simple Chicken Broth Congee
  • 1 1/2 cups washed white, long grain rice (I used 1 cup rice for thinner congee)
  • 1 (900ml, 1 L, 4 cups) box low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 boxes water (3L, 12 cups equivalent)
  • salt, to taste
Wash white rice, add chicken broth and water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2.5-3 hours. Season to taste and ladle into bowls.  

I'm sure this recipe would be good in the slow cooker.  


Finished product.  Notice that it's almost half eaten in one sitting!  My oldest and the baby had three helpings!  
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  1. Try adding ground beef while cooking OR cooked chicken strips! -Hilda

    1. That would be really good too! YUM! I grew up ordering "mixed meat" congee with liver and other things I don't care to remember... that was over 30 years ago!


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