ancient baby congee recipe

March 13th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

by suburban mom

If you ask any Vietnamese person what to feed their babies, they will tell you congee. Also known as chao, rice porridge, or jook. Congee is rice cooked in a lot of water. This process makes the rice soft yet smooth, with a porridge like consistency. I started feeding my twins this at 6 months old.

I grew up eating this stuff and to this day, I still love it. You can find this at real Chinese restaurants on the menu. There are so many variations of it, with fish, chicken, pork, preserved eggs (also known as 1000 year old egg). I love this, it’s a very bizarre food item and an acquired taste, but it’s my favorite. Congee is also eaten with fried dough sticks or fried fritters. Ummm yums.

So my mom used to make this for us whenever we got sick. According to her and almost all the Asians I know, this apparently cures all ailments. Stomachache? CONGEE. Cold or flu? CONGEE. Post baby? ONLY EAT CONGEE! Hangover? CONGEE! Well you get the point, it’s one of those ancient recipes that’s a cure all. (supposedly) I just eat it cause it’s goooood!

When my twin girl River was 2 months old, she would vomit all the time. Sometimes it was the projectile kind. We were living abroad at the time in Vietnam. And I had my family nanny come live with us to help with the babies. She has had a hand in raising a lot of my cousins whom are all still living in Vietnam. I call her the nanny Nazi because she is very old school.

She would wake up each morning bright and early at 5 am and make a pot of plain and very loose congee. She would put the pot on the lowest heat. By mid morning she would strain out all of the grains that were left just to get the liquid. It would smell so good! I’d use the rice liquid in my bottles for River to help keep her milk down. It worked wonders and proved to me that as reluctant as I was to doing things the old school way, some things were just meant to be passed down.

So here is my mom’s recipe for chao aka rice porridge. There are a lot of ways to prepare this and jazz it up to your taste. And of course this isn’t just baby food, I eat this all the time, except I put scallions and ginger in mine with fish or chicken and don’t forget the hot sauce. I’d say it’s the equivalent of chicken noodle soup on a cold dreary day.

Turkey wings or legs (go to Whole Foods), or any type of chicken to make a broth or substitute with any organic ready made broth (365 Organic chicken broth from Whole foods)
1 cup of Rice
Any veggie of your choice such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, squash, corn, sweet potatoes

Use any type of rice, I use Jasmin rice or any long grain rice. Also you can alter the ratio of rice and liquid to make it either thicker or looser. For example use 3/4 cups of rice to 7-8 cups of water.

  • I let one cup of rice soak in water overnight. (optional)
  • Start by rinsing your turkey or chicken.
  • Then put that into a medium pot with about 10 cups of water and boil for broth.
  • Put stove on medium heat and cook for about 3 hours or more (to get the best broth results).
  • When you have a nice broth, strain the broth out and try to skim off excess fat.
  • Then pour the broth into a pot or if you are using a slow cooker, put the broth in that.
  • Strain your rice if you’ve soaked it overnight or just pour the cup of rice in the broth whether you are using a crock pot or a regualar pot on a cooktop.
  • If you are using a pot, bring to a boil first, then put on a low heat for about and hour or until the rice becomes a porridge consistency.
  • If you are using a crock pot, set it on medium and let it simmer for 1 hour.
  • In a separate pot boil any veggie you like. (broccoli is my kids favorite)
  • Put the veggies in a blender.
  • Then when the congee is done, mix in the veggie puree.
  • Add salt to taste. (remember it’s for baby’s taste so it should be more on the bland side)
  • Then you can put in containers and store in fridge and it’s good for about 5 days. Another key in storing this is making it a bit thicker so that it won’t get too watery.

Then voila baby congee for your little one. The most perfect food for babies and mommas.

Oh and just a tid bit of info, when I asked my pediatrician in Vietnam if I could start feeding my babies this, she said at 6 months, they were absolutely ready. And she told me it was the best thing to give them because it has 4 essential food groups: rice, poultry, vegetables, fat.

I just emailed city mom this recipe in detail so that she could start making this healthy hearty meal for my niece Addison! Hint hint.