Congee as Comfort Food

congee, jook
Can you spot Isaac’s mop of black hair looming at the top right corner in the first photo? “I … must … touch … congee …”

The last few weeks have been exhausting. I’ve been sick twice in three weeks (once with a gastro-intestinal virus and am now recovering with maybe strep and/or a sinus infection), and my two illnesses bookended my little man’s bout with a stomach virus (yet again). Ever since Isaac started daycare in August, it’s been a neverending series of maladies at our house. So please forgive me for not posting until now.

Thankfully, I’m well-prepared when it comes to feeding the sick, whether my son, husband, or myself. My go-to dish is my mom’s congee, called ‘bubur’ in Indonesian, also known as jook (粥) or rice porridge. And it’s so easy to make, I can even fend for myself when I’m under the weather.

Just like chicken (noodle) soup is …




36 thoughts on “Congee as Comfort Food

  1. I cooked your Congee recipe in the tiny kitchen in my Chalet perched on the cliff edge, in Withernsea, on the East Yorkshire Coast in England, one chilly summers evening. I enjoyed eating it so much, that I cooked your Congee again the following night, and I enjoyed eating it again so much, that I bought your book The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, and it is brilliant!
    Thank you for bringing the smells and tastes of Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens into my little wooden Chalet by the sea in England.

  2. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the
    images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show
    the same results.

  3. I loved the recipe. I ran short of time though. So I used a pressure cooker to cook. My 1 yr old son loved it, my 6 yrs old daughter gobbled it up, I’m pretty sure that my eldest daughter & hubby would be equally thrilled once they get home & I have felt renewed enough to sit at the computer long enough to type a review for one of the easiest & healthiest dishes I have loved making. It took me abt 30 mins to be done including getting the garnishes ready. Thanks Pat.

  4. My local Asian market has quarts and pints of jook, to go, on week ends. Very good but there are lumps of a brown, soft slippery ingredient in it that I can’t identify. It has a mild pleasant taste. There is a bit of a language problem so I’m in the dark. Anyone know what it might be? I have had jook in a number of places and even made it and I’ve never seen this before.

    1. Hmm, they could be pickled or preserved vegetables, Jeff. If you send me a photo I might be able to identify them. But I can’t tell you off the bat!

    2. Brown, soft, slippery points to thousand-year egg, also known as century egg, an egg that was preserved by burying it in a mixture of clay, ash and other ingredients. Wikipedia can tell you more if you’re interested. It’s a classic flavoring ingredient in jook.

  5. I sympathize with you at that point in life. I went thru my 2nd bout of illnesses when my kids were between 3 and 6. Kids pick up germs like summer clothes pick up dirt! They’re building up their immunity and ours is down. Your Mom’s idead to use broken Jasmine is perfect! On another site, the author used 1/2 Jasmine & 1/2 long grain and he was very satisfied with the results.
    To eg, yes you can cook it in a slow cooker. Check on line as others have made it that way. This is NOT a fussy dish to make (unless using a gas/propane stove)

  6. Just made your recipe and followed it to a T including your garnish recommendations and dropping in raw eggs. It’s FANTASTIC! Everyone in the house is sick, yet our toddlers are gobbling down every morsel. Thank you!

  7. I cannot thank you enough for this congee recipe. I was sick years ago and congee was the recommended cure. I loved it, ate it as often as I could. Now I live in a different neighborhood and can’t find any but I have been trying for awhile to make some. There have been hits and misses but I will try this now … Thank you!

  8. Sorry you’ve been ill – hope you’re well now. We’ve been thru the business of grandchildren bringing home all kinds of lovely yuckiness from pre-school, etc. to share with their parents and us…

    I grew up on “Jewish Penicillin” – my involvement with Chinese cooking started about 50 yrs ago when I was in High School – most of my friends were Chinese or Japanese.

    About 15 years ago I discovered the joy of jook! I love it and now regularly make it especially when I’m not feeling well. My ABC friends can’t get over some of the cooking I do… Like buying a roast pig head and trotters from a Chinese bbq deli and making jook from that – Yum!

    1. Hi Karen,
      I’m all better, thank you!
      The link between Jewish and Chinese cooking is a strong one :). Hah, I love that you enjoy pig heads and trotters. I must admit that I’m not fond of them though I do enjoy equally outrageous body parts such as pig’s blood and tripe when prepared well. Lovely of you to stop by! Cheers, Pat

  9. I must admit that I’m less of a fan of congee compared to some folks here. Maybe my mother made boring congee. Yes, she did sometimes use a meat or veggie stock. She didn’t make congee often. After all, cooking lots of rice for 6 children, it got eaten up. She wasn’t going to move to the next stage of cooked rice put into other dishes, except maybe for stir-fried rice.

    But the most fun congee to me was congee made from the rice crusts at the bottom of the pot. Toasty tasting and nice!

    1. Hi Jean, I’ve never had congee made from the crusty rice at the bottom of the pot. That’s fascinating, I’ll have to try it. For many people congee is comfort food because of the feel-good emotions associated with the experience of eating it as well as how it tastes. I know some people who aren’t fans either. I have to say it’s what goes on top that makes a good bowl of congee for me. Thanks for stopping by! Cheers, Pat

  10. Pat,
    I hope you are feeling better by now. Bubur Ayam is the best. I love both the Chinese version and the “abang-abang” version with the yellow sauce, kecap manis, chinese celery, lots of shallots, toasted soy beans, and sliced cha kwee. Ultimate breakfast for me :-))

    1. Hi Tuty, How are you? It’s good to hear from you! I’m all better now, thanks for asking. Ohhh, yu cha kway is the best! It’s so hard to find fresh ones here so I hardly ever have it with my congee. But thanks for the memories. Cheers, Pat

  11. Oh, well I hope you are feeling better. In regards to congee, I love the stuff!!! I eat it even when I’m not sick. It makes for a light meal accompanied with some savory dishes. Sometimes I have it instead of rice!

  12. Oh definitely congee when people are sick in my family, too. That and a Chinese herbal chicken soup, though less commonly.
    Just want to add that your book is great; I learned a lot from it. Thank you!

    1. Hi William,
      Oh, I definitely prefer congee to an herbal chicken soup regardless of how quickly it will heal me! Thanks for stopping by and I’m so glad you enjoy my cookbook. Feel free to ask any questions. Cheers, Pat

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