GF: Basic congee

GF: Basic congee, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.


So the photo is just the little bit left from lunch the other day. The babe was still eating her congee as she just can’t get enough somedays.

I’ve written about this simple rice porridge before – how it soothed my stomach after food poisoning overseas; how my husband’s family uses this as a staple (and swears by the powers of the rice “broth” for feeling better when you are ill); etc. It’s so good – that people have begun getting worried that I wasn’t going to post the recipe.

I guess my delay in posting the “recipe” is that there really are so many varieties, ways and ideas for what you can do that there really is NO recipe for this. It varies by family, province, country, etc. But there are some basics for you to know before you toss your rice into a pot and get cooking.

It’s important to note that rice porridge (congee or jook) is meant to be cooked longer than you would normally cook/steam rice. You want the rice to break down and the rice starch to naturally thicken the broth. In order to achieve this, you want to do the following:

  • Use a rice to water ratio that is at least 1:8. For example, toss 1/2 cup of rice (not Minute Rice, not Uncle Ben’s processed rice – just regular old rice) in to 4 cups of water. (Yes, that says 4 cups!)
  • Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Stir frequently to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to help develop a creamier texture.
  • Simmer with a lid covering MOST of the top (leave it open about an inch or so to avoid it overflowing!) for 45 minutes or so. At this point, you should be able to stir the rice and see that it has thickened the liquid (which is now more like a stew broth – thick and delicious!) and you will see that the rice has broken down.
  • Now add salt to taste. And Wah-lah! You have a basic rice porridge.
  • You can now eat your porridge as it (which we often do) or you can top it with the traditional chopped green onions as well.

There are so many things you can do with this that you will find a never ending list of “gotta-try-that”s in your brain once you taste the deliciousness of this super-simple soup. Here’s a list of some of the things that we have done:

  • Heat a little oil in the pan and quickly saute some chopped garlic until aromatic.  THEN add your rice, water and salt.  MMMMM.
  • Use chicken stock instead of water (or veg stock, or… etc).
  • Better yet:  Remember that GF rotisserie chicken you picked up for dinner but didn’t really finish?  Put that into a huge stock pot, cover with water and toss in your rice.  Boil this for a couple hours.  The carcass will break down and the meat will be tender and fabulous mixed into the congee.  (You may/may not need to add seasoning/salt – depends on your chicken.)
  • Make the congee with a ham bone instead of that leftover chicken.
  • At the end of cooking, add some rinsed black beans and some chopped up tiny pieces of meat.  (This is Zoe’s second favorite version.  Second only to the basic version above.)
  • Add traditional Chinese ingredients, like Thousand Year Old (aka preserved) duck egg or a splash of GF soy sauce instead of the salt.
  • Add some chopped up pieces of white fish just at the end of cooking and boost your protein power.  You only need to cook for a few minutes longer for the fish to cook through if you chop it up.
  • Whisk an egg (or two) in a small bowl, the stir the egg into the cooked congee.
  • Sauté some small chopped carrot and onion pieces, add a bit of garlic then add your rice and a bit more water (like 1:9 ratio or 1:10 – depending on how thick you like your congee) and cook away.

Really… the variations are endless.

The structure or basics are not set in stone.  The ratio can vary depending on how thick you prefer your congee.  I wouldn’t suggest using a ratio of less than 1:6 as then you end up with mushy rice and not a porridge at all.  And a ratio of greater than 1:12 makes for some watery rice soup.  But hey – it’s personal preference!

I order congee for myself and the Chicklet when my honey has a craving for dim sum. It’s gluten free –  but be careful!  Some restaurants like to top their congee with shredded wonton skins.  Just say no to those as they are not gluten free and avoid the traditional Chinese donut (a long fried not-sweet bread) that is always typically served with congee.  I guess that’s the beauty of having a (1) baby along because they always ask if the baby would like those things (LOL!) and (2) a native Cantonese speaker in the mix. 🙂

I hope this post finds you all well and enjoying your fall.  Life is grand around here – so much so that we are even considering adding another family member in the form of a 11 month old pup.  (As though one toddler weren’t enough for me……..)

Happy GF Eating!
And don’t forget to come back and post your favorite congee variation!
I’m up for some new ideas!

Gluten Free, Korean Mung Bean Pancakes (Nokdu bindaetteok)

Zoe and I made lunch together today. Okay, really… she mainly napped on my back while I cooked after valiantly attempting to whip her head around to be able to see what I was doing. She loved watching me as I chopped and prepped everything. I made these Korean mung bean pancakes (otherwise known as Nokdu bindaetteok)) for her, as I knew she might be familiar with the flavors. The pancakes are often made with pork inside but since we didn’t have any and she’s not really a huge meat eater, I just skipped that all together.

“True” Korean recipes for these pancakes vary, but the reality is, they are quite simple to make and very tasty. You can vary the ingredients you put inside of them to include other vegetables (like red pepper strips, julienned carrot, etc) or meat (typically only a few ounces of ground pork added to the batter before cooking).

(NOTE: Nokdu bindaetteok) *CAN* be made with wheat flour inside. Please do NOT eat these pancakes at restaurants, etc unless you are certain that they are GLUTEN FREE and made with rice flour if you, too, adhere to a gluten-free diet.)

While called “pancakes”, they are really an appetizer (although we combined these “appetizers” with a simple cucumber salad for lunch yesterday. I wanted to give this recipe a test run to see if it would work for the Tol Party (Zoe’s first birthday) that we are planning for Saturday. And while I think these would be well received, the truth is that they taste MUCH better warm/hot and fresh off the griddle than cool. So… unless I keep them in the oven warm while the party starts, I will be in the kitchen cooking during my daughter’s birthday party. (Umm.. yea… I don’t think that will work either.)

I hope you give this recipe a try. It really is easy and quite delicious. While the ingredients *can* be typical (like including kim chi – the cabbage version), you can also make it with just napa cabbage or in a pinch, that shredded cole slaw mix from the grocer will do. Use what you have for the vegetables and you will be pleased.

Even Zoe ate about 1/4 of a pancake!  Kid-tested, but no photo this time to prove that it’s kid-approved.  You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.  She forewent her yogurt for this pancake.  Gotta love an adventurous eater!

Gluten Free, Vegetarian Mung Bean Pancakes

Nokdu bindaetteok
Korean Mung Bean Pancakes

Recipe makes 6 – 6 inch pancakes

1 cup split mung beans
1 2/3 cups water
1/3-1/2 cup rice flour
2/3 cup diced sweet onion
1 cup approximately (about 1.5 ounces) thinly sliced cabbage OR cabbage kim chi OR shredded cole slaw mix
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar or sugar (optional)
1 teaspoons chili powder (omit if using kim chi; use if just using cabbage)
olive or vegetable oil (for frying pancakes)

For dipping sauce:
2 parts Gluten Free soy sauce
1 part white vinegar
sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Soak the mung beans in the water at least two hours or until soft. (They can be soaked overnight as well. We soaked ours overnight – easier for us new parents…LOL)
  2. Finely slice the onion and the cabbage (if not chopped already). Add to a bowl with the salt and set aside to sweat for 15 minutes.
  3. Finely chop the green onion and garlic.
  4. Transfer the beans and some of the soaking liquid to the bowl of your food processor (or blender) and process to a fine, smooth paste/batter. Add 1/3 cup of rice flour and process again. The batter should become a thick pancake batter that easily drps in clumps off a spoon. If the batter is too thin, add a bit more rice flour. If the batter is too thick, add more of the soaking liquid.
  5. Mix together the batter with the onion/cabbage mixture. Add the garlic and green onions. Stir well.  (If using pork, add the ounce or two of ground pork at this stage.)
  6. Add the sesame oil, chili powder and agave nectar. Mix well.
  7. Into a hot frying pan, add 1 teaspoon or so of your chosen oil. Heat. Scoop about 1/2 cup – 2/3 cup of the pancake batter into the hot oil/pan and fry about 2-3 minutes on each side. (Flip when the edges become a deep, golden brown color around the entire pancake.)
  8. Serve the pancakes hot with dipping sauce (2 parts GF soy sauce mixed with 1 part white vinegar).

Happy GF Eating!
~Kate & the Chicklet


Lunch, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

So lately my lunches have been eaten here… at my desk… with my cell phone by my side in hopes that a miraculous phone call about the Chicklet will arrive.

It’s the only way I’ve made it through the day, really. It’s my only time without people around and the only time I can allow myself to break a bit and crumble a bit. Apparently, I’m quite good at sucking in all the anxiety and teaching with a smile on my face. I adore my job – that makes it easier – but somedays, it’s hard.

Lunch is nothing to get worked up in a frenzy about – but it is absolutely gluten-free and absolutely delicious.

I find myself seeking solace these days in the simple gluten free pleasures I can find at home. The healthier my lunch, the better I feel. Lately, I’ve been packing this for lunch (or some variation of this):

  • non-fat yogurt, raspberries and gluten-free granola parfait
  • roasted red pepper hummus
  • red pepper strips
  • and a handful of raw almonds (already munched upon by photo op time)

This simple lunch holds me over quite well actually. Now, if only I could get over the anxious munchies after dinner. Good grief! Tonight I ought to cure that with an extra long workout at the gym. If not, then I guess I will have to a little more protein to my lunch. (Maybe that’s why I’m hungry later??)

Today I ate lunch with colleagues for the first time in several weeks. It’s incredibly hard to see their loving faces ask about the Chicklet and to feel that depth of sadness again when I think about the not-knowing. Really, I think the not-knowing is the killer part.

This is a short post, just to show you all that I am still here. Still thinking about the Chicklet and baking.

I’ve got an awesome coconut cupcake and coconut bread recipe that I’m going to share with you all. Oh MAN – it was fabulous!

What have you guys been packing for lunch lately?

Tomorrow I’m bringing a great romaine heart salad with apples, dried cranberries and smoked salmon. The dressing (always the most important part, IMHO) is simply a splash of a great olive oil and another of a fabulous balsamic vinegar. MMMMM. (Are you looking for more gluten free lunch ideas? Check out this post too.)

Oh boy. Now I’m thinking about that salad for tomorrow!
I’d better get out of here and head to the gym already!

Happy GF Eating, All!

Cranberry-Rice Bran Gluten Free (& CF!) Muffins

Ooops. I intended to post this yummy muffin recipe on Tuesday… but time flies when you lose your mind. 😛

How was your Thanksgiving weekend? Ours was much-needed quiet… until I got the flu… and then once I recovered, we were off on adventures in Portland, OR. Oh… Portland is an easy place to have Celiac Sprue! But that story will have to wait for another post this week (SORRY!). This post has been waiting for far too long.

When I was younger, I remember my mother making huge vats of oat bran muffin batter. I also remember something about the idea of us kids being able to then microwave a muffin for breakfast in the morning. Ummmm… I’m pretty sure I didn’t microwave a muffin. I probably didn’t know how to do it and I would have been scorched! I still don’t know how to “bake” or really cook much in my microwave now. But BOY – it does a bang-up job reheating leftovers and getting hot water ready for my morning oatmeal. 🙂

And while I may not be a whiz at the microwave, I did so love those bran muffins. They were dense, filling and had a great slightly-sweetened flavor to them. The only thing missing in my mind were blueberries. Really. Blueberry Bran Muffins? To die for.

Since the traditional idea of a bran muffin is off the list of foods, I have turned to rice bran to make my muffins. I haven’t really focused on making bran muffins before… but I had a craving for the ones my mom used to make.

This recipe makes only 6 muffins. (There are only two of us in the house at the moment…LOL) If you need more, I believe it will double easily.

And now that Thanksgiving is over, I bet you may have some cranberry relish sitting around waiting to be used up too. (And if you don’t, you can find a super easy recipe for cranberry relish here. Don’t have mangoes? No worries, use about 6 mandarin oranges (or 1 large navel orange) and you will be set.)

These muffins made for great breakfast last week and a wonderful road-trip munchies too.

GF/CF Cranberry-Rice Bran Muffins
Recipe makes 6 regular-size muffins
1/2 cup rice bran
1/4 cup sorghum flour (or rice flour or millet flour)
1/4 cup tapioca starch flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 egg
1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened, natural apple sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cranberry relish or sauce (or dried, unsweetened cranberries)
1/4 – 1/3 cup cold water


  1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Spritz the inside of 6 paper muffin cup liners with oil. (This last step is optional, but the muffins may stick to the paper liners otherwise.)
  2. Mix together dry ingredients with a whisk: rice bran, sorghum, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar.
  3. Mix together wet ingredients: apple sauce, egg, water and cranberry relish.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add dried cranberries (if using, or desired).
  5. Fill muffin liners 2/3 full with batter.
  6. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes or until golden brown and the middle is firm/set to the touch/tap.

NUTRITIONAL DATA (per muffin):
Calories: 96
Total Fat: 2 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams; 0 grams Transfats
Sodium 150 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 20g
Dietary Fiber: 3g
Sugars: 4g
Protein: 3g
Vitamin C: 2%
Calcium: 3%
Iron: 11%

Happy December Everyone!

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