Enjoy the Delicious, Healthful Benefits of Congee


by Christanne Spell

In Chinese cooking, congee is a broth or porridge made from rice. A staple in many Chinese diets, it can be part of morning, noon and evening meals. Known as okayu in Japan, juk in Korea and jok in Thailand, congee is simple and easy to make by combining a small amount of grain with five-to-six times more water and a pinch of sea salt.

The dish can be made with a single grain, such as rice, or a combination of grains, beans, vegetables and medicinal herbs.

Rice congee is beneficial for people with weak digestion due to a poor diet or illness. Since it is light and easy to digest, it is recommended for those too sick to eat solid foods. If this is the case, first strain the cooked congee and serve the liquid. This liquid food can also be used as a supplement for nursing babies.

Here’s a wonderful recipe to try making congee for yourself and those you love:

8 Treasure and Sweet Potato Congee to improve Heart Health:

Makes 8 cups (2 L)

If you like oatmeal but want to try something new, this bowl of congee may be what you’re looking for. The sweet potato adds natural sweetness and increases fiber content. Most of these ingredients can be found in your local Asian grocery stores.


  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) dried lotus seeds
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) dried red beans
  • 1 whole sweet potato (diced)
  •  2 tbsp (25 mL) dried lily buds
  •  3 tbsp (45 mL) raw peanuts
  •  9 (2.5 oz / 75g) dried dates
  •  9 (whole) dried longan (or lychee)
  •  1 cup (250 mL) dried mixed grains
  •  2 tbsp (25 mL) honey
  • 11 cups (2.75 L) water


1. Soak red beans in cold water overnight or at least 4 hours.

2. Soak lotus seeds in cold water for 3 hours.

3. Soak lily buds for an hour.

4. Slightly rinse dried mixed grain with cold water before adding to a large pot of hot water.

5. Add lotus seed and red bean to the pot. Cook for 45 minutes before adding dates, lily buds, longans, peanut and sweet potato.

6. Turn to low heat and allow the congee to simmer for another 45 minutes.

7. Mix in honey to slightly sweeten.

8. Serve hot or cold.

Nutritional information per serving

(1 cup / 250 mL)

Calories: 185

Protein: 4 g

Total fat: 2 g

Saturated Fat: 0 g

Dietary cholesterol: 0 g

Carbohydrate: 39 g

Dietary fibre: 3 g

Sodium: 8 mg

Potassium: 252 mg

Source: Sosan Hua, RD. ©The Heart and Stroke Foundation

Christanne Spell is the administrator and admissions officer at the San Antonio Branch Campus of Texas Health and Science University. She is completing her degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. To learn more about degrees and programs available at THSU, visit www.thsu.edu/saclassroom.

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