RECIPE // Healing Congee & Gomasio


God I hate porridge.

Controversial, I know.

I honestly can’t stand it. It’s the stuff of childhood nightmares. Going to friends houses and forcing myself to eat a bowl of sludgy, milky stuff covered in honey. I feel queasy just thinking about it.

Life can be a little alienating for the porridge non-believer. Especially in the cooler months. Especially in the wellness / health realms. You don’t like porridge?! people ask. Omg but its SO GOOD its SO COSY. I like good, I like cosy. But I’ve tried the stuff every which way and it’s a solid nope from me.

It’s a shame though. Eating a hot bowl of something in the cooler months feels like the right thing to do. I tried to like porridge so many times because I craved that cosy experience, and I know, sometimes, there is a breakfast life beyond toast.

Enter congee.

Like most things in my life I really need (yoga, infusions, rest) I thought about eating congee way before I finally did it. I made it once or twice and it didn’t really turn out. I almost gave up. The trick with Congee is mostly patience. Let it do its thing. Try less.

Despite congee being basically the oldest recipe in the universe, it has become my new favourite thing. For breakfast with soy sauce and gomasio, for a bigger meal with heaps of stir fried greens, garlic and ginger on top. I’m in love.

And it’s my hope, that perhaps there’s someone out there, forcing themselves to eat porridge who may like this a little more. It’s for savoury breakfast lovers. It’s for when you’re feeling run down. It’s for sensitive digestion. It’s for being soothed, supported and nourished.

Why Congee?

It’s medicinal and restorative to the whole system. In TCM this simple rice soup is said to be easily digested and assimilated, tonifies the blood and the qi energy, harmonizes the digestion, relieves inflammation and is deeply nourishing. Herbs can be added so as to literally eat your medicine.

Basic Congee Recipe

  • 1 cup organic short grain rice

  • 4-8 cups of water

Rinse the rice until water turns clear. Add rice to a heavy bottomed saucepan or donabe. Add water and bring just to a boil then turn heat on the lowest setting possible and take off the lid. It seems like it will never become hot enough - but it will, I promise. Stir occasionally. Add more water for a thinner consistency. Cook at least two hours, four if possible. The longer you cook the congee, the more medicinal it is said to be!

You can add a whole bunch of things to the water here - dried shiitake mushrooms, konbu, turmeric - a little googling will present you with a million recipes more exotic than this. However, if you’re just starting out, simple is the best place to start.

Congee keeps quite well if you refrigerate it soon after cooking. I usually eat it over three days, some say it can last up to five.

Topping Ideas

Stir fried greens with garlic & sesame oil / chilli oil / gomashio (recipe below) / kimchee / toasted sunflower seeds / soy sauce or tamari / furikake / toasted nori / spring onions / caramelised leeks / umeboshi (pickled plums)

What is Gomasio?

Gomashio is a Japanese condiment made popular by macrobiotics. It is said to stimulate the digestive system and to help better assimilate the food we eat. Its a nutritive friend to regular salt, containing b vitamins, iron and calcium and is said to be the ultimate remineralising seasoning. Some say it nuetralises acidity in the body. Also, it tastes really, really good.

Nori Gomasio Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

  • 1/2 cup white sesame seeds

  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  • a few sheets toasted nori, crushed (optional)

Toast the salt first on pan or skillet for a minute or so. Remove salt and add to mortar and pestle or blender. Toast sesame seeds until they start to pop and turn a few shades darker. Add sesame seeds and nori to the salt, crush and combine until you have the desired consistency, it’s nice to leave it with a few sesame seeds still whole. Store in a glass or ceramic jar in the cupboard - not the fridge!

I would love to know if you eat either of these - or have your own variation. Share in the comments below, or send this post to a friend who could really benefit!


image via pintrest, vintage balinese rice buckets

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