Cooking with Medicinal Chinese Herbs: Chicken Congee to Build Qi and Blood 

Cooking with Medicinal Chinese Herbs

Preparing a pot of congee, East Asian rice porridge, with subtle medicinal touches, is one of the best ways to replenish qi and blood and refill your reserves quickly.

Congee is a dish that is beloved in China and throughout East Asia. Its soft, warm, and easy-to-digest consistency is perfect for boosting Spleen Qi. 

Some telltale signs of Spleen Qi Deficiency include reduced appetite, abdominal bloating and epigastric pain that is worse after eating, sluggish digestion, and fatigue. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spleen Qi is the energy that catapults digestion and is the basis for blood production.

This classic porridge is full of flavor, simple to make, and great for any time of day. Add jujube dates and goji berries to fortify qi and nourish blood. These everyday herbs are renowned for calming the mind and aiding better sleep.

GINGER:

Loved for its warming properties, ginger harmonizes the stomach, soothes nausea, and supports digestive function.  

JUJUBE DATES:

Also known as Chinese red dates, they help boost circulation and nourish the blood; in doing so, they improve sleep quality and ease the digestive system. 

GOJI BERRIES:

Often paired with jujube dates, these gem-like berries strengthen three major yin organs of the body – the Liver, Kidneys, and Lungs. In addition, these sweet and tart berries are fantastic for supporting symptoms of Blood Deficiency, such as blurry vision, dry skin, and dry eyes. Goji berries are often recommended in TCM food therapy to support graceful aging and are best eaten when rehydrated. 

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of water
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • a healthy pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup white or brown jasmine rice
  • 1-inch piece of sliced fresh ginger
  • 2-3 lb. pasture-raised whole chicken
  • 4 scallions roughly chopped

Herbs to Build Qi and Blood:

  • 5 jujube dates halved and pitted (add along with the main batch of ingredients)
  • 2 tablespoons of goji berries (add last 10 minutes of cooking)

Garnishes:

  • 1-2 teaspoons of tamari
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoons of black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of finely julienned fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sliced scallions

Step 1: Place 8 cups of water, the chicken, ginger, jujube dates (if using), and scallions in a large pot over medium-high heat to make the chicken stock. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked (thermometer reads 165 ºF). When fully cooked, place the chicken on a plate to cool. 

Step 2: Strain your homemade chicken stock into a clean pot over medium-high heat. Add one cup of rice and continue simmering until you have a thick porridge (about 1 hour). Stir occasionally to ensure the rice doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. If the congee dries out, add a cup of water, stir, and continue to simmer.

Step 3: Add the goji berries when 10 minutes are remaining (this ensures that the flavor from the berries remains sweet and prevents them from taking on a bitter taste). 

Step 4: Slice and shred the chicken meat. 

Step 5: Spoon a heaping serving into a bowl, top with chicken, and add the garnishes of your choice.

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