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10 Super Yummy Congee (Rice Porridge) Combos for Toddlers
Easy on the stomach, soothing and extremely digestible, rice porridge is indeed a
wonderful food for children. What's even better about congee is, it's so easy to
cook and you can use almost any ingredients you want. You can keep it simple with
budget friendly ingredients or create a "luxury" congee with various kinds of seafood
such as abalone, dried scallops and lobster.
Additionally, rice porridge recipes are great for busy moms. When you're too tired
(or lazy) to whip up a variety of individual side dishes, just throw everything –
rice, meat, veggies, seasonings – into a slow cooker and let it cook. A couple of
hours later, you'll have a satisfying one-pot porridge for the family. You also don't
have to worry about nutrition because it's all there. Carbs, proteins and fiber in
one meal, plus no mess in your kitchen.
Note: Although used interchangeably, there's a slight difference between rice porridge
and congee. Porridge is more watery, more grainy and not as smooth as the Cantonese
congee (also called jook or chook).
Deliciously Different Ideas to Spice Up Simple Rice Porridge
I'm happy to share the best 10 rice porridge (or congee) combinations that my kids
Beancurd sheet and ginkgo congee, carrot and pork congee, carrot and whitebait porridge,
celery and beef congee, corn and chicken porridge, chicken and mushroom congee, duck
porridge with yam, pork liver and chicken congee, lotus root and pork congee, and
chicken peanut congee.
Medium to long grain white rice (Thai jasmine rice) is usually used to make congee
but I personally love brown rice porridge. It has a nutty flavor, interesting texture
and nutritionally better than polished white rice. However, brown rice takes longer
to cook than white rice so make sure you soak them beforehand (approximately 30 minutes)
to speed cooking time. Also, add more water than usual as brown rice grains are tougher.
Some children dislike the taste of brown rice so you might want to use a half-and-half
combination of brown rice and white rice, or use premium grade organic brown rice.
You can also use a combination of millet, buckwheat, red rice, red mountain rice
and brown rice (5 grain rice) to bump up the nutrition factor in congee.
Here's how you can achieve the ultra smooth texture and glue-like consistency of
the Cantonese congee. Simply place a porcelain or ceramic spoon in your pot of congee
while cooking, and stir constantly until the rice breaks down completely.
To get your children excited about veggies, you can add an assortment of vegetables
such as sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin, celery, tomato, spinach, broccoli, bamboo
shoots, corn, lotus root, and mushrooms (dried mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, straw
mushrooms or button mushrooms). Whatever veggies you pick, just remember to add one
vegetable that's sweet enough to appeal to fussy eaters.
Depending on what I have in the pantry, I sometimes also add lotus seeds, lily bulb,
goji berries, red dates, dried logans, black fungus (wood ear fungus) and white fungus.
All these ingredients are highly nutritious and make my congee a little different
It's also a good ideas to make porridge with vegetable stock (or chicken/beef broth)
in place of water to make it sweeter. Try apples and corn to make the stock, and
add a small amount of wolberries or red dates as well.
3. Meats/ Seafood/Tofu
Seafood is a pleasant change from the usual pork, pig's liver, chicken, or fish (cod,
white bait, threadfin) congee. Choose from a variety of seafood – prawns, limpets,
scallops, abalone, clams and/or oyster – so that things are never boring. There are
no strict rules about what to add to congee, just use fresh ingredients that are
healthy and easy for children to digest.
I don't encourage using store-bought fish cakes, crab sticks, cuttlefish balls, meatballs,
Chinese sausages (lup cheong) or luncheon meat (SPAM) when making rice porridge for
children. These highly processed foods have too much salt, MSG, artificial flavors
and colors – way too unhealthy.
If you want to use minced meats, I highly suggest you buy lean cuts of meat and mince
it yourself at home, in a food processor or mincer. That way, you can be sure that
your kids are getting the quality food.
And, for a vegetarian version, add mashed tofu to the congee as it nears the end
of cooking (15-20 minutes before it's done) and stir in a beaten egg to add color.
Congee is also a great place to use up the leftovers in your fridge. For example,
you can shred leftover rotisserie chicken and add to plain congee. Leftover roast
duck meat, barbecue pork (char siu), leftover turkey, omelet are also great additions.
For seasonings, I usually stick to simple condiments – salt and white pepper. Some
like to add a dash of soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame seed oil to make it Cantonese
while others love a little oyster sauce and rice wine to kick up the taste of rice
porridge. For a Thai flavor, use fish sauce (nam pla) or rice vinegar.
Garnish with fried garlic chips, chopped spring onions, parsley, pickled ginger,
dough fitters (you tiao), and/or pork floss.
By Justina Lee
My young children are very fond of rice porridge (savory congee) and love to eat
them for lunch almost every day. It's a little embarrassing to admit but I spend
hours and hours trying to come up with new great-tasting congee recipe ideas and
different combinations. It'd be so awesome if you could share with me a few quick
and easy Chinese rice porridge recipes for toddlers. My kids have no problems with
food allergy but being picky eaters, they're not so keen on veggies. Thanks. – Lynette,