Traditionally known as "hsi-fan " or rice water, congee is eaten throughout China as a breakfast food. It is thin porridge or gruel consisting of a handful of rice simmered in five to six times the
amount of water. Although rice is the most common grain for congee, millet, spelt, or other grains are sometimes used. It is better to use too much water than too little, and it is said the longer congee cooks, the more powerful it becomes.
The healing properties of this simple rice soup are that they can easily be digested and assimilated, tonifies the blood and the Qi energy, harmonizes the digestion, and is demulcent, cooling, and nourishing. Since the chronically ill person often has weak blood and low energy, and easily develops inflammations and other heat symptoms from deficiency of yin fluids, the cooling, demulcent and tonifying properties of congee are particularly welcome. it is useful for increasing a nursing mother's supply of milk. The liquid can be strained from the porridge to drink as a supplement for infants and for serious conditions.
Other therapeutic properties may be added to the congee by cooking appropriate vegetables, grains, herbs, or meats in with the rice water. Since the rice itself strengthens the spleen-pancreas digestive center, other foods added to a rice congee become more completely assimilated, and their properties are therefore enhanced. Back to Congee Recipe.