Instant Pot™ Congee with Baby Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushrooms
Congee is Chinese comfort food at its finest. Traditionally, it’s served for breakfast. However, it can also be ramped up with other ingredients for a hearty, healthy meal. Thanks to the Instant Pot™, this labor of love is quick and easy.
It’s no secret that I adore Chinese food. And, like any addiction, mine has only grown over the years.
Nonetheless, congee is a dish I came to late, probably because it’s almost never available at the local takeaway. Rather, it’s a staple of Chinese home cooking that isn’t commonly available in restaurants.
This is a real shame, because congee is a dish that’s endlessly adaptable. It’s perfect for convalescents since long cooking makes it easy to digest. In addition, it’s a hearty, easy meal — particularly when it’s prepared in the Instant Pot™.
For this version, I’ve used seared baby bok choy and browned shiitake mushrooms for a light, healthy, vegan main. However, in terms of topping and flavouring congee, the options are only limited by your imagination. I’ll give you a few suggestions at the end of this post, so that you can develop your own array of favourites.
About Baby Bok Choy
The humble baby bok choy is a cruciferous vegetable that packs a real nutrient punch. In addition to healthy fibre, bok choy contains over 70 different antioxidants. It is also incredibly low in calories, at just 13 per 100 grams.
Baby bok choy is one of the most nutrient dense foods available. Just 100 grams of baby bok choy provides:
- 89% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A,
- 75% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, and
- 57% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin K.
Better yet, baby bok choy contains antioxidants that help prevent and treat cancer. Numerous studies have shown that people who eat multiple servings of cruciferous vegetables weekly are at lower risk for cancer, particularly of the prostate, colon, breast, and lung.
The Vitamin K in baby bok choy helps to reduce inflammation, and its high Vitamin A content means baby bok choy is also very good for your eyes. One serving of baby bok choy fills your daily allowance of beta carotene which helps fight macular degeneration. Finally, due to its richness in Vitamin K, calcium, iron, phosphorous, and magnesium, baby bok choy supports strong and healthy bones.
With benefits like these, bok choy is a vegetable we should all be eating more of. In addition to using it as a congee topping, as I do here, bok choy is a delicious addition to:
- stir fries,
- fried rice,
- cole slaw,
- kimchi, and
- as a stuffing for filled breads.
About this Recipe
Congee is among the easiest dishes on the planet, particularly when it’s prepared in the Instant Pot™, which does all the heavy lifting for you. Hence, I’ve chosen to spend a bit of time and effort on the toppings.
However, there are days when you simply don’t have time for extra steps. If you’re having one of those days, feel free to separate the leaves of the baby bok choy (or roughly chop it). Once the Instant Pot™ has depressurised, press [Cancel] on the Instant Pot™ to turn off the [Keep Warm] function and press [Sauté]. Stir the baby bok choy through, add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Then, leave it to simmer for about 5 minutes prior to serving.
Alternately, leave the baby bok choy out altogether. Instead, top the finished congee with a heap of kimchi for a delicious twist.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, the beauty of congee is that it is infinitely variable. You can top it with just about anything that strikes your fancy. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Chinese, Indian, Japanese, or Korean pickles;
- Bamboo shoots;
- Kale or spinach;
- Leftover vegetable curry;
- Bean sprouts;
- Toasted peanuts or cashews;
- Marinated or baked tofu chunks;
- Chopped water chestnuts; or
Let your family’s tastes be your guide. Most of all, I hope you enjoy this healthy congee every bit as much as my family does. Bon appétit!