This morning I woke up with a cold, the kind that needed the comfort of soup. I grew up on homemade chicken noodle soup. Later, as a nod to my Jewish roots, I made matzo-ball soup for my daughter when she didn’t feel well. Twenty years ago, when I was a nanny for a Chinese family, I was introduced to Jook, a tasty rice porridge. (It strikes me as funny that this Chinese family adopted the Korean word for Congee.)
This morning I decided to cook up some warm Chinese comfort food. Jook or Congee is a warm, savory rice porridge or gruel, popular in many Asian countries. In my case, it is the Chinese version of chicken soup. Often times it is served to people who are feeling “under the weather.”
This is my Jook/Congee inspired vegan rice porridge. While it’s not actually a soup, it is a feel-good food for when you are ill and makes a tasty one-pot meal on a rainy or cold winter’s night.
I made my Jook in 12 minutes in the Instant Pot (on the rice setting), but if you don’t have one, this is a crockpot ordeal. It takes a while for the rice to break down (about 2-2 1/2 hours).
Start your crockpot on high. Rinse the rice, then add the 9 cups of water and rice to your crock pot. Stir in the “chicken” base. You won’t need to add salt to your dish as this has all the salt you need. Add the ginger and garlic, stir and let it do its thing. When the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to low.
Stir occasionally to dig up any rice sticking to the bottom. The rice should begin to break down and look less like soup and more like oatmeal. About 15 minutes before you are ready to eat serve it, add in the carrots and water chestnuts.
Ladle into a bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and top with green onions.
I like a lot of garlic and ginger when I have a cold. It boosts my immune system and adds a lot of flavor, but you can adjust them according to your tastes. If you are feeling adventuresome, there are also some additional add-ins to consider topping your Jook/Congee with.
Vegan sausage crumbles
Toasted sesame seeds
Four reasons to give Jook a try? It’s comforting, inexpensive, good for you and easy to make!