A recipe to be treasured

Source:Global Times Published: 2010-11-17 9:50:00

By Shen Sijia

The reputation of the famous Chinese Eight Treasure Congee, known as Labazhou (also known as Babaozhou) isn't solely based on its taste.

This traditional porridge is also renowned as being highly nutritious, containing a wide range of amino acids, proteins and vitamins that are essential to human health. Its cooked nuts and dried fruits are excellent for soothing the nerves, while also nourishing the heart and strengthening the spleen.

The festival of Laba is celebrated on the eighth day of the 12th month, referring to the traditional start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year. In Chinese la means the 12th lunar month and ba means eight.

And as the name suggests, eight varieties of nuts and beans are cooked together with sticky rice or brown rice. Among those commonly included are red beans, barley, red dates, peanuts and lotus seeds.

To prepare, the ingredients are simply soaked overnight and cooked in an electric rice cooker, making the whole process as quick and easy as the click of a button.

And for certain groups such as pregnant women, people with stomach problems, or very young children, the "treasures" can be varied according to nutritional needs.

The Global Times tried out a few of the best.

Traditional 'Mother' Eight Treasure Congee


> Sticky rice, 150 grams

> Barley, 25 grams

> Peanuts, 25 grams

> Red bean, 25 grams

> Dried lotus seeds, 25 grams

> Dried longan, 25 grams

> Walnuts, 25 grams, cut into small pieces

> Red dates, 25 grams

> Rock sugar, to taste

> Water, 8 cups


> Soak all the ingredients (except for the longan) in water for between 4-5 hours.

> Put all the ingredients into a pot, bring to the boil, then simmer for about 1 hour (adding water as necessary), and adding rock sugar.

> After an hour, turn off the heat and leave covered for another hour. Itï‚'s then ready to serve.

The treasure for pregnant women


This sticky and sweet porridge uses osmanthus sauce and lotus seeds. It is aromatic, easy to digest, and is high in carbohydrates and inorganic salts.


> Sticky rice, 150 grams

> Preserved fruit (preserved peach preferably), 15 grams

> Chinese dates, 25 grams

> Lotus seeds, 25 grams

> Apricots, 25 grams

> Wax gourd, 25 grams

> Walnuts, 25 grams

> Hawthorn cake, 25 grams

> Sweet-scented osmanthus sauce, taste to adjust

> Water, 8-9 cups


> Diced the wax gourd, and cut the hawthorn cake into cubes.

> Wash the sticky rice.

> Add water, the sticky rice and the other ingredients into a pot.

> Bring to the boil, and then lower the heat to simmer the rice.

> When the porridge thickens, add the sweet-scented osmanthus sauce and sugar and mix well. The dish is ready to serve.


Stomach-soothing congee


Consuming dates, yam and lotus help nourish the stomach, spleen and kidney. They also ease insomnia, physical fatigue, diarrhea and dry coughing. This Eight Treasure Congee should be eaten on a regular basis for the most effective results.


> Gorgon, barley rice, white beans, lotus, yam, red dates, longan, lily, 10 grams each

> White rice, 150 grams


> On a medium to high heat, boil all of the seeds and nuts for 30 minutes.

> Add rice and more water; continue to boil for another 10 minutes.

> Reduce to a low heat and simmer for another 10 minutes. The dish is ready to serve.

Cancer-fighting congee


Its anti-cancer effects have been noted in cases of lung, esophageal, gastric, colon, breast and prostate cancers. The congee should be eaten daily for breakfast for at least a month. This recipe also helps with anti-aging.


> Soybeans, 100 grams

> Corn, 100 grams

> White fungus, 50 grams

> Dates, 9 pieces

> Mushrooms, 9 pieces

> Lotus seeds, 50 grams

> Medlar, 30 grams

> Honey, taste to adjust


> Place the white fungus and mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes and drain thoroughly afterwards.

> Wash the soybean, corn, dates, lotus seeds and medlar with cold water.

> Pour the rice, white fungus, mushroom, soybeans, corn, dates, lotus seeds and medlar into a pot, add cold water, boil, and then simmer on a low heat until the rice turns into porridge.

> Turn off the heat, add honey into the porridge, and stir well.


The Legend of Laba Porridge

The legend goes that when Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha, was on his way into the mountains in search of enlightenment, he grew tired and hungry. He fainted away by a river after walk-ing for a whole day. A shepherdess found him, and fed him porridge made with beans and rice. Siddhartha Gautama was thus able to continue his journey.

On the eighth day of the 12th lunar month, after six years of strict discipline, Siddhartha finally attained full enlightenment while meditating under the Bodhi tree (known as the tree of wisdom).

Large Buddhist temples would offer Laba rice porridge to the poor to show their respects to Buddha. In the Ming Dynasty (1368ï‚–1644), it became such a revered food that emperors would offer it to their officials during festivals. And as it gained favor in the feudal upper class, its popularity quickly spread throughout the country. With the passing of time it is now simply thought of as a popular winter dish.

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