Here in the US, one of the most well-known heal-all dishes is a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup. In Asia, a common go-to dish is congee. Congee is so versatile and has so many healing virtues we thought it deserved its own blog post!
Congee (con-jee) is a traditional rice porridge consumed throughout Asia for thousands of years. Known by many names, such as jook (Cantonese), juk (Korea), arrozcaldo (Phillipines), okayu (Japan), jok (Thailand), it is most commonly eaten for breakfast – but you can eat it anytime.
The basic recipe is simple: combine 1-part rice to 6-10 parts water, and cook slowly on the stove for 2-6 hours.
The result is a delicious, nutritious mushy meal that looks a lot like oatmeal. It is very easily digestible for the body. You can then dress up your congee with an array of herbs, spices, vegetables or meats specially tailored for you and your health. Consider serving it with eggs, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, scallions and ginger, garlic and sriracha, shredded chicken or pork, even shrimp goes well with congee.
In TCM, congee is nourishing to the Stomach and Spleen meridians and tonifies Qi and Blood. It helps to soothe irritated digestive tracts and is an excellent dish for those recovering from: a cold or flu, food poisoning, illness in general, digestive issues such as acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, anorexia and even fatigue. Gentle enough for the elderly and the little ones, congee is commonly one of the first foods given to babies after breastfeeding and even given to those recovering from chemotherapy or radiation.
If you'd like to learn more, ask your acupuncturist during your next session or check out The Book of Jook by Bob Flaws.