Eight Treasures Porridge (Ba bao Porridge; 八宝粥), also known as Laba Congee (腊八粥), is a traditional food for the Chinese Laba Festival, which falls upon the eighth day of the 12th lunar month, usually at the beginning of January. This year, it occurs on 13th January 2019. In the past, people in China ate this porridge to keep warm, welcome wealth in the new year and gain enlightenment.
Perhaps the porridge might have been originally made with eight kinds of ingredients, hence its name. Nowadays, the ingredients used in this porridge are varied and can be classified into three categories of grains (regular rice, glutinous rice, black rice, job’s tears, millet), beans (aduki beans, mung beans, peanuts, lotus seeds) and dried fruits (longnan, goji berries, jujube). Because of all the nourishing high-protein beans and easy cooking method, many Chinese love this porridge. It is subtly sweet and has a soft glutinous texture.
Some tips for making delicious eight treasures porridge:
- Soak the grains and beans overnight.
- Simmer the porridge for at least 1 1/2 hours.
- If needed, add additional sweetener such as raw honey or lakanto.
- 25 g (1/4 cup) sweet glutinous rice
- 25 g (1/4 cup) black glutinous rice
- 25 g (1/4 cup) job's tears (coix seeds)
- 25 g (1/4 cup) millet
- 25 g (1/4 cup) aduki beans
- 25 g (1/4 cup) mung beans
- 25 (1/4 cup) peanuts or apricot kernels
- 15 g dried longans
- 10 g red dates, pitted
- 2.5 L (10 cups) filtered water
- To taste, raw honey or lakanto
- In a large bowl, place the ingredients except the red dates and soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse well. Transfer into a large soup pot or electric cooker and add in filtered water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding more water during the process if needed. The final texture of the congee should be pasty. Taste and adjust the sweetness level if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve warm.
- You may substitute similar ingredients of the same category, according to what you have on hand - grains (regular rice, glutinous rice, black rice, job’s tears, millet), beans (aduki beans, mung beans, peanuts, lotus seeds) and dried fruits (longnan, goji berries, jujube).
- As all ingredients are slow-cooked to a paste, this porridge is easy to digest and good choice for people with a weak digestive system. It is also a diuretic and helpful for people with the constipation.