Monday, March 1, 2010

Slow Cooker Congee

My husband and I used to have a neighbor Chinese restaurant that we went to for dinner a couple times a week many years ago before we were married. The restaurant did a booming business with the Asian community. They even had a menu written entirely in characters (which we assumed was Chinese). After we became regulars the owners made an English version of the “special menu” for us. We both fell in love with congee. It was our go to soup to start dinner. I began making it at home a couple of times a month. We ate it for years before I forget about it. Since I decided to make summer rolls tonight for dinner I thought a bowl of congee would make a great soup with dinner.

If you are unfamiliar with congee my husband describes it lovingly as "gruel". You overcook rice in a large amount of water (or light veg stock) and it gets most of its flavor from the garnishes. This soup is very versatile. In China they eat this soup as part of breakfast. I have had it in the morning and it does make a nice breakfast for those of you that are open to anything. The base of the soup is low in calories. This soup can be very light or rich depending on the garnishes you choose.

My slow cooker has been sitting quietly waiting to be used for months. I don’t know why I haven’t put it into service until today. I tend to use my slow cooker more in the summer when I am busy outside or don’t want to heat up the house. However the slow cooker is great in the winter when the house is closed up so that you aren’t bringing toxins into your home by using your gas stove. I always open the kitchen window for a few minutes after cooking to remove some of the toxins after I use the stove or oven.

Here is the version of congee I made today.

Slow Cooker Congee
Makes 6 servings of approximately 2 cups each

Soup Ingredients:

1 ½ cups glutinous short grain brown rice
10 cups water or light veg stock
½ yellow onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ inch fresh ginger root, peeled and cut into thin julienne
2 tablespoons liquid aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)

Possible Garnishes:

Thinly sliced green onions
Carrots, finely julienned
Mushrooms, thinly sliced and marinated in liquid aminos, or minced
Sesame oil
Liquid aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)
Black sesame seeds
Cilantro, minced
Napa Cabbage, thinly sliced
White miso (not traditional but I love this addition)


Combine everything in your slow cooker and cook on high for 6 - 8 hours. You want the rice to be very soft and soup. You can’t overcook this soup.  When it is finished it will be thick like porridge.

When it is time to serve the soup, top with the garnishes of your choice. Remember this is what gives the soup most of its flavor so be generous with toppings.

Nutritional information (for the base soup not the garnishes):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 92.78
Calories From Fat (7%) - 6.45

Total Fat - 0.78g
Saturated Fat - 0.01g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 332.77mg
Potassium - 32.45mg
Total Carbohydrates - 21.77g
Fiber - 1.74g
Sugar - 0.48g
Protein - 1.74g


Without the garnishes this soup doesn’t have much flavor. The garnishes are what make it come alive. After you have had a bowl you will get a feel for how to season this for your tastes.

Unrelated Notes:

What a gorgeous day we had today. It was so nice to have the temperature reach the mid 40’s where it should be. Today it felt like spring may actually get here, eventually. Having the sun shining and weather warming also does wonders for my mood.

Last night and this morning I have been dabbling in trying to plan meals for the week. Since I doubt that I will stick with it, because I never have before, I am not going to post the list just yet. But I will be trying to stick to it. If I can do it for a couple of weeks I will start posting weekly menus.

We also had summer rolls with the congee.  I will be posting the recipe or at least the method tomorrow. I hope you all have a good evening.


  1. Interesting recipe; I hadn't heard of this before...looks good and something fun to try.

  2. Mmmm, I love congee. My mom used to make it all the time when I was little. I used to call it "jook" as a kid.
    Usually I make it with star anise (just a tad!) and that tends to flavour it a bit more.
    Love the recipe, thanks for reminding me about this old fav!

  3. hmmmm, not sure about the congee, but the summer rolls look tasty!

  4. Rose,

    This does make a great breakfast if you want something carby. It reminds me of savory rice pudding.


    Love your avatar. He or she is adorable. I have seen this called jook as well. Great idea adding a little star anise. I will give that a try.


    I had my congee last night with miso, which is my favorite flavoring. If you like miso soup this becomes a thick version of it.


  5. I've never had congee. Thanks for describing it as well as posting the recipe. So glad you finally got some nice weather your way.

  6. Heather,

    I enjoy this, but do think it may be an acquired taste. It is bland without garnishes. Traditionally it contains minced pork and white rice. But you know me, I had to make it healthier.

    talk to you later,

  7. Yummy..looks delicious..should soon try this congee...waiting for your summer rolls recipe..picture itself is so inviting..

  8. Nithu,

    Thanks! I hope you like the congee. It makes a nice breakfast or light lunch.

    I am writing up the summer rolls now. I should have that posted this morning, if my phone stops ringing soon. ;)


  9. Ah that's what that is! I saw this at the breakfast buffet at one of our hotels in China. I didn't try it, because there was clearly meat in it. I bet I would like your version.

  10. Sarah,

    LOL, you are so adorable! Thanks for making me smile this morning.

    The traditional versions I have had all had meat too. This dish is very versatile. You can add anything to it. If you prefer you can leave out the onions and garlic and make it like oatmeal with fruit toppings and nuts. I have been known to do that too.


  11. I once tried to make congee and it was a smashing failure. . . too runny, too flavorless, yuck! But yours actually looks good to me--maybe I need to try again.

  12. Ricki,

    The first time I made congee I had the same problem. Thankfully I had eaten congee that was good so I knew I was the problem.

    By using glutinous rice you get a thick consistency like a cross between oatmeal and rice pudding. In my less healthy days I have also used arborio rice.

    Without the toppings, and a generous squirt of sriracha or liquid aminos, this would also be a little bland. The garnish makes all the difference in this recipe.



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