Naomi’s Kosher Congee Two Ways Recipe gives an individual approach to the rice porridge soup ubiquitous across Asia. In every culture, there is a comforting porridge-like dish made from the locally available abundant grain. Here, Naomi Ji shares a recipe with two different versions: the simple plain and seasoned version preferred by her husband Shan, and Naomi’s own colorful favorite with tomatoes, tofu, pepper, cilantro and plenty of flavored oils.
Community Recipes is a recurring feature where we share your recipes on the Jewish Food Hero blog. If you want to share a recipe in this series, pitch us your idea here. This series is all about sharing healthy Kosher recipes. We are creating a positive community around food and sharing.
Tell us about yourself, Naomi!
I am a stay at home mom that loves food and everything to do with cooking and travel. I have been vegan for about 5 years.
I grew up in Oregon living with my parents, who met when they were in culinary school. My love for food came from them. My husband came to Arizona from China for school and work. We met online, had our first date in a small town, and about a month or two later we got married in Vegas. We have been together ever since! He is an atheist and I’m Jewish. We currently live in Washington with our three kids, who we are raising Jewish.
What one food item could you not live without?
My favorite meal depends on my mood – either dumplings, a sauerkraut sandwich or kimchi with Mac and cheese.
Can you recommend your favorite cookbook to us?
When it comes to cookbooks, it has to be:
Because it is so great for building confidence with using Middle Eastern ingredients and recipes if you are not so used to that. All the recipes are vegan but totally packed with flavor and spices, with all the favorite ingredients like tahini and aubergine. Basically, when I want to make colourful and powerfully flavored food, this is my go-to.
I love how this book shows the deep historical and geographical connections between Judaism and vegetarianism.
I first came across Meera Sodha with her amazing Indian food recipes. This book goes all across Asia and using only vegan / vegetarian ingredients. I’d recommend this book if you or anyone you know has the misperception that vegan food is boring or just a fad!
Do you have a health tip to share?
It’s not a specific health tip per say, but I have been vegan for 5 years and it makes me feel well. I am also a big proponent of evidence based nutrition! When I have a question about my diet, I say its best to seek the advice of a registered dietician.
What’s the story behind your Recipe?
My husband, Shan, was feeling homesick and missing the food he grew up eating in China. Shan is not much of a cook, but he always tried to introduce me to foods he grew up eating, so that I could recreate it. When I became vegan, it became hard for me to cook certain dishes for him. Of course, that didn’t stop me from getting creative in finding alternatives.
One day, my husband was craving Congee. He pulled out the rice cooker, added the rice and lots of water, and cooked it into a porridge. Eating it just as it was made him feel a little less homesick. But I loved the simplicity of it. He added some sauces and pickled vegetables next to his own bowl which made it even better. Congee became a family favorite.
I still remember the look on Shan’s face when he saw that I liked it. And I will never forget the look on his face when I made it for him. Congee was also one of the first foods we introduced to our children and they love it. We even have Congee for Shabbat!
I’m sharing my recipe for Congee Two Ways, because each person has their own individual congee style. These are the two ways me and my husband each prefer. Use these as a starting point and let yourself experiment to find your perfect bowl – the possibilities are endless.
So tell us, what’s so great about congee?
Congee is a porridge with endless possibilities! Congee can be:
- plain, savory, or sweet.
- served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- use rice, millet, barley or even cornmeal as your base
- Soy milk, water or broth as your liquid.
You can mix in or eat it alongside:
- silken tofu
- five spice tofu
- fried tofu
- shepherds purse
- mung beans
- Chinese donuts
- sweet potatoes
- mock meats
- vegan eggs in soy sauce
- green onion/scallions
- whatever you would like to have.
Congee certainly seems like a versatile dish! What’s your favorite way to style your own bowl?
Condiments!!!! Anyone that knows me, knows that I have too many condiments and pickled vegetables. I love it, I just wish I had more space to store it all. You can top the congee with sesame oil, chili oil, Chinese pickled cucumber, Chinese pickled cabbage, sesame paste, pickled needle mushrooms in chili oil, pickled bamboo shoots in chili oil, soy sauce, coconut aminos, I have even added kimchi and sauerkraut in a pinch.
I will say it again, the possibilities are endless.
Any thing else we need to know?
Here are some tips:
- Cooking time can vary based on temperature and what you add. It can take me about 35 minutes on medium high. On a lower temperature and with sweet potato, pumpkin or mung beans it can take about an hour.
- Leftovers will get thick, just add more water when you reheat it.
- If the congee is not soft, add a cup at a time and cook a little bit longer until it’s a desired texture. It’s okay if you end up using more liquid than what is listed. I prefer my congee a little runny, while my husband will eat it at any consistency. Go based on your preferences.
- If it’s too salty, add more water.
- If you are allergic to soy, you can use coconut aminos as a soy sauce alternative.
- Hemp tofu, Burmese tofu (chickpea tofu), even pumpkin tofu, chickpea Scramble (add towards the end) or cooked mung beans can be used in place of silken tofu.
- If you are gluten free, just replace the soy sauce with tamari or coconut aminos
- If you are oil free… simply don’t use the oil!
And last but not least: the ginger adds flavor to the congee, but no one is going to enjoy biting down on a tough old piece of ginger. Leave it in while it cooks, but fish it out and discard before serving.Print
an, and Naomi’s own colorful favorite with tomatoes, tofu, pepper, cilantro and plenty of flavored oils.
- 1 cup of rice
- 8 cups water (you can use broth or soy milk)
- 3 slices ginger
- Sesame oil (optional)
- Scallions/Green Onion (optional)
- 1 cup rice
- 6 cups vegetable broth or vegan “Chick-un” broth with 2 cups of water (or 8 cups low sodium broth)
- 3 slices ginger
- 6 small or 2 large tomatoes
- ¼ tsp sesame oil
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ½ block silken tofu
- ¼ cup frozen spinach (or peas)
- Soy sauce to taste
- Cilantro/Coriander (optional)
- Green onion/scallions (optional)
- Chili oil (optional)
To make Shan’s Congee:
Rinse the rice until it runs clear.
Slice the ginger length wise.
Add the rice, ginger and water to a cooking pot on medium high. Every so often, stir so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Add more water if it’s thickened and the rice isn’t fully cooked.
When the porridge reaches your desired consistency and the rice is soft, turn off the stove. If the rice is soft, but the texture of the porridge is thicker than you want, slowly pour some water and stir to the desired consistency.
Serve with scallions, sesame oil, soy sauce, pickled vegetables, or whatever you desire.
To make Naomi’s Congee:
Rinse the Rice until the water runs clear.
Slice the ginger length wise.
If the tomatoes are small cut in half, if the tomatoes are large cut in quarters.
Put the rice, broth/water, sesame oil, tomatoes, ginger, tofu, and white pepper in a cooking pot.
Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Keep an eye on it, add water if it’s thickened and stir, add water or soy sauce to taste.
5 minutes before the congee is done, add spinach/peas. Adjust taste and texture according to preference.
When it’s soft at 35 minutes, take it off the heat and serve, top with cilantro and chili oil or whatever you prefer.
More Community Recipes
Jewish Food Hero’s Community Recipes feature is a space for us all to share our favorites and hear from a variety of people in our community. This is an easy and fun way to get new meal ideas and learn about each other. Since you’ve read Naomi’s recipe, do you feel inspired to share your Kosher recipe? Don’t forget to get in touch to share your recipe too!
Check out these other recipes from our community: