Ever heard of congee? Would you be surprised to know that it’s the most common breakfast on planet Earth? While most Americans start their days with sugar bombs (breakfast cereal, pop-tarts, pancakes) and cholesterol bombs (eggs, bacon, sausage), most of Asia starts the day with savory rice porridge. It’s “congee” if you’re in China, “jook” if you’re in Korea, or “jok” if you’re in Thailand. Whatever you call it, it’s a simple and delicious way to start the day with whole foods.
Think of congee as savory Asian oatmeal, and you’re getting the picture. Chicken and rice soup would be another comparison. This recipe doesn’t use chicken, but you can easily add it. Traditionally, pork or chicken is a part of this dish. Since most Americans get plenty of chicken and pork, I’m presenting an alternative.
Getting the kids on board for congee is easier than you might think. The flavor is simple and easy to like. Let your kids choose a few toppings and you’re off to the races. My 16 month old eats this three of four times a week, and he always finishes it, kale and all. With older kids that are dubious, let them add a few things like fried wontons or even crackers. If they’re not excited about new things, just call it “rice soup” instead of congee and leave the kale out. Once they’ve decided that they like it, you can push the envelope a bit.
If your kids are used to sugar bomb breakfasts, the road will be a bit rockier. Still, congee is a great breakfast to wean them off the sugar bombs.
Instant Pot Wild Rice and Mung Bean Congee
The evening before: Separate the kale leaves from the stems and rip them into bite sized pieces. Discard the stems. Slice your ginger into large, thin pieces. Chop the garlic. Add the broth, grains, kale, seasonings and legumes to your instant pot. Set it to pressure cook for 30 minutes, and delay the start time to be at least an hour before you want to eat.
The morning of: When you wake up, your congee is ready to eat. Add any of the three garnishes suggested above, or try your own. Things with some crunch are a nice addition, since the consistency is like porridge. Season it to your taste and enjoy.
Dress up a bowl with kid-friendly garnishes (or at least, without onions and chili sauce) and serve it to them too.
If you’d like to stir in an egg, that’s a nice addition. If you’re using an instant pot, just stir it in when you take the lid off. Change the setting to sautee and cook until the egg is opaque.
Adding chicken is delicious too, but you’ll need to use the instant pot a different way. Since leaving it to sit overnight waiting for the pot to turn on isn’t a good idea, you’d want to add the chicken right before cooking. You can use the instant pot as you would a crock pot for this though. Set it on slow cook and allow it to cook overnight (at least 6 hours). Either way, set a chicken breast or thigh on top and cook. In the morning, remove the chicken from the pot and use two forks to shred it. Stir it back into the congee and enjoy.