Congee: The Ultimate Bowl of Comfort

Chicken & Rice Congee- anti-cancer recipes- cook for your life

Many Asian countries have variations of rice porridge — there’s okayu in Japan, juk in Korea, jok in Thailand, and lugao from the Philippines. In China, this staple dish is called congee, and it is standard fare for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. The Chinese start eating congee when they’re very young, as it’s often the first food served to children after a mother’s milk.

Congee is a perfect dish for people going through treatment for cancer, recuperating on a bland diet, or are having diarrhea. It’s gentle on the stomach and easy to digest. If you make congee with brown rice, you get the benefits of additional fiber, which will help you maintain regular digestion. While brown rice congee is high in fiber, use white rice when following a bland diet or if you are currently experiencing diarrhea.  Congee also helps keep you hydrated, as there is so much water in the dish, making it a great meal to turn to when you might be feeling nauseated or low on energy.

Congee is a flexible dish that can be part of a larger meal or served on its own. It can be made with broth for a richer soup, and with fish, diced chicken or tofu for extra protein. To give additional flavor to the soup, incorporate scallions, shitake mushrooms, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper. Adding any vegetables you might have in the fridge boosts the nutritional value significantly, since congee itself is not vitamin-packed. Be mindful if you are experiencing diarrhea to not add in cruciferous vegetables or other vegetables with the skins on them.

The recipe below is a good starting point for whatever improvisations you want to make. Although it takes time to make, it keeps well in the fridge for several days or can be frozen to eat later. If you opt to use stock over water for a more savory dish, serve the stew topped with diced chicken, marinated tofu, a poached egg, or vegetables. The addition of ginger adds warmth to the broth and makes it particularly soothing on the stomach and can help relive nausea — feel free to add as much as you like.

Basic Congee recipe:

Rice to liquid ratio: for desired consistency…

  • 1:7 for extra thick 
  • 1:8 for thick 
  • 1:9 for medium thick 
  • 1:10 for medium thin 

Stove top: 

  1. Rinse rice to wash away impurities. 
  2. In a medium pot, bring desired liquid amount (above) to a boil, add rice, and reduce heat to medium and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes. Stir every now and then to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. 
  3. Season with salt. 

Note: The longer the congee is on the stove, the thicker it will become. If congee gets too thick, add more liquid to thin it out. 

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker:

  1. Rinse rice to wash away impurities. 
  2. The best rice to liquid ratio for the Pressure Cooker is 1:9 cups. Start by adding 1 cup of rice with 9 cups of liquid in the pot. 
  3. Set to high pressure and cook for 30 minutes. When done, release pressure naturally (10-15 minutes). 
  4. Season with salt. 

Rice Cooker:

  1. Rinse rice to wash away impurities. 
  2. A good place to start is with a 1:9 cup rice to liquid ratio. The best ratio for you will depend on your rice cooker so adjustments may need to be made. 
  3. Let rice cook for one cycle or use the porridge setting if your cooker has one. Depending on your preference and rice cooker, another cycle may need to be ran if the congee is too thin. 
  4. Season with salt.

Our Chicken & Rice Congee recipe is a staff favorite and great way to enjoy this nourishing and soothing dish!

Registered Dietitian Approved

Our recipes, articles, and videos are reviewed by our oncology-trained dietitians to ensure that each is backed with scientific evidence and follows the guidelines set by the Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, 2nd Ed., published by the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society

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