Cook: Instant Pot Chicken Shiitake Spinach Congee

This is an original post from my DeliciousLA blog, but I’m sharing it again here because Congee is a wonderful comfort food – great for fall and winter, and especially soothing during colds!
Growing up, Congee (rice porridge) was always our go to comfort food when we were sick. Congee is a traditional Chinese food that has reportedly been eaten in China since 2500 BC!

My family has been fighting various colds for the past few weeks, and we have turned to congee to soothe, warm, and fill our bellies. Thanks to the instant pot I received for Christmas, this congee can ready to eat in about an hour (natural release-recommended*), with only about 10 minute of active time.  You can eat it sooner in about 40 minutes with instant pressure release (which I tried because I’m impatient and my kids were hungry) but I do not recommend this – see below.

The congee my parents use to make for us was a plain rice porridge that we would later add toppings (meat, vegetables, egg, pickled cucumbers) to, but I’ve made this “fully loaded” congee with rave reviews from my family.  I adapted this recipe from “instant pot congee” by Beth of Budget Bites. My modifications: I used more shiitake mushrooms (8-12), used about 1.3 lb (between 1 and 1.5 pounds seemed right) boneless chicken thighs and added spinach (trying to up the vegetable count for my family). This recipe is toddler approved, as both my 2 and 4 year olds love it!

Chicken Shiitake Spinach Congee Recipe
Serves 6
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
2 cloves garlic, crushed (I used Dorot frozen crushed garlic cubes from Trader Joe’s)
1-2 inches fresh ginger, sliced (I am not sure how much this is, I guesstimated and it tasted fine)
8-10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1.3 lb boneless, skinless, chicken thigh
7 cups water
2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
5 oz baby spinach
Optional Toppings
soy sauce to taste
sesame oil to taste (a little goes a long way)
green onions, sliced
cilantro, chopped
  1. Slice the ginger – peel if preferred, I did not find it necessary.  Crush the garlic, or use 2 frozen garlic cubes.  Slice the mushrooms into thin strips.
  2. Wash the rice in the Instant Pot and drain. Spread evenly at the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add the crushed garlic, sliced ginger, and sliced mushrooms on top of the rice. Lay the chicken pieces over the rice and aromatics.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Add seven cups of water.
  5. Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Make sure the steam release valve is turned to the “sealing” position. Press the “porridge” button to begin cooking. The pot will begin to heat and build pressure. Once it reaches the required temperature and pressure, the display will begin to count down 20 minutes.
  6.  When the 20 minutes are up, the pot will switch to the “keep warm” setting and begin to drop in pressure. The original recipe (and my experience- see below) recommends allowing the pot to reduce in pressure naturally, without opening the steam release valve. When the float valve falls back to the down position, open the steam valve, and then open the lid.  *I tried quick release carefully, but I think the pressure forces some rice-y water to come through the valve / and then you have to wash the entire lid carefully to provide the parts from clogging up.
  7. After opening the pot, it will look watery, but don’t worry the consistency will be correct once you stir it.  Taste the porridge, and add additional salt as needed. Only add enough salt to amplify the flavors, but leave room for the addition of soy sauce as a topping.
  8. As you’re stirring, break apart any large pieces of chicken – this should happen very easily, as the chicken is now very tender, but you can use a fork if needed.  Add a large bunch of spinach and let it cook down (with residual heat) for a few minutes.
Ladle the congee into each bowl and enjoy! Depending on your taste preference, you may drizzle a small amount of toasted sesame oil and/or soy sauce on top of each bowl. I like mine with some chopped cilantro.  I hope this recipe helps warm some other people during cold and flu season!

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I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, doctor, adventure enthusiast, food lover, and photographer. I spend a lot of time researching fun things for my family to do, explore and eat - so I created this space to share some information that might be helpful to others.

5 thoughts on “Cook: Instant Pot Chicken Shiitake Spinach Congee

  1. We have 6 people in our household (grandparents, me and my husband and our two boys) so we usually only have a little leftover -which we eat the next day. I think it could probably keep in the refrigerator for a few days – you can scoop some out and add a little water before reheating. I hope you like it!

  2. Hi Angela, I think it would work with chicken stock, though the flavor is quite nice with the cooked chicken and water as is. If you want to use less chicken, then it might be more flavorful to try adding some broth to the liquid.

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