Barley, Millet and Mung Congee

Barley, Millet and Mung Congee

Congee is made from slow and long cooked grains and lentils. Chinese rice congee is the best known around the world, but Korea and Japan also have congees, and India has kanji. The macrobiotic movement adopted congee as a delicious and nourishing dish, easy on the digestion. It can be eaten at any time of the day and is very popular for late night snacking and for breakfast. They say that the longer congee cooks, the more powerful it is.

You want to cook congee on the lowest possible heat, so it is barely simmering. Use a heat diffuser, especially for the second half of cooking, otherwise it may stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. I prefer to cook it in a Chinese clay pot – I believe the flavour is superior, and I keep my pot for congee only.

Similar dishes include Rice and Raisin Porridge, Congee with Ginger, Mushrooms and Chilli-Black Bean Sauce, Congee, Congee with Butternut and Ginger, Red Rice and Adzuki Congee, and Quinoa Porridge.

Browse all of our Barley recipes and all of our Congee dishes. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.

Chinese Clay Cooking Pot

This is the cooking pot that I use – they are very inexpensive and available at any Asian grocery. Remember to soak in water for 24 hours before your first use, and to only use to cook over low heat. Never put them in the dishwasher.

Barley, Millet and Mung Congee

Barley, Millet and Mung Congee

0.5 cup pearl millet (the common millet sold in supermarkets)
0.5 cup pearl barley
0.25 cup mung dal (yellow split mung beans)
5 cups water

optional flavourings
few curry leaves
bay leaf
1 black cardamom
several peppercorns
0.5 – 0.75 tspn turmeric powder
1 – 2 finely chopped tomatoes

toppings (choose your combination)
soy sauce
Chinese Black and/or Red Vinegar
pickled ginger slices
crispy garlic slices
crispy ginger slices
crispy fried onions
tofu cubes
coriander leaves
unsalted peanuts (raw peanuts are best)
slices of young ginger
pickled ginger
miso pickles
sliced cucumber
sliced tomatoes
sliced spring onions
shredded carrots
fresh chillies sliced
sliced mushrooms
dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced
dried seaweed
bean sprouts
steamed beans
Asian greens

Rinse the grains and mung beans, and place in a large saucepan or clay/terracotto pot suitable for the stove top. Add any or none of the optional flavourings. Add 5 cups water and cover with the lid.

Place over your lowest heat (use a heat diffuser if necessary,especially in the second half of cooking) and cook on low for 4 – 6 hours until a porridge like consistency. Top up the water as necessary. Stir every 20 – 30 mins, to prevent sticking.

It can also be cooked in a 100C oven for 8 hours or overnight.

Season with salt and white pepper, stir through chopped herbs if desired, and top with many or none of the suggested toppings. Serve with Indian or Asian pickles and a fresh salad.

Barley, Millet and Mung Congee

recipe notes and alternatives
A sweet version of this congee can be made. Cook the grains and lentil with a couple of green cardamom pods, 2 cloves and a cinnamon stick. Serve it with a little honey, and some grated apple and/or pear.

Do you have a “Soup Mix” to be used up? The generic name for a mix of barley, dried peas and dried lentils. Use it in congee in place of the barley.

The congee in the photo is topped with soy sauce and black vinegar, cucumber, tomato, sprouted mung beans and daikon miso pickles.


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