Zoey Gong Summer Millet Congee Recipe

Zoey Gong’s Summer Millet Congee, a RADII-recommended Recipe

Eating congee in the summer might seem counterintuitive, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

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Sammi Sowerby RADII Tatler
11:31 AM HKT, Mon July 25, 2022 1 mins read

With more ink than an octopus and piercings than a pirate, Zoey Xinyi Gong looks nothing like stereotypical depictions of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners.

Zoey Gong TCM practitioner

A ‘TCM practitioner’ according to Google Images (left) and Zoey Gong (right)

This discrepancy does have its uses, however. Gong, who was born in Shanghai but is based in Brooklyn, has inspired thousands to give TCM a second glance, and motivated many more to incorporate it in their lives.

The chef, food therapist, registered dietician, event producer, and founder of Five Seasons TCM tailors her wellness tips for a younger generation: Think what herbal tinctures to take to a music festival or, as this feature demonstrates, what to eat to keep your qi levels in sync with the summer.

There are two ways to tweak our diets for the better every summer, advices Gong: The first is to consume more cooling foods, and the second is to extract dampness, the bane of TCM, from our bodies.

“This congee targets both of these concerns and makes for a really great breakfast item. It’s not like you can’t eat anything hot in the summer,” underscores the dietician. “It’s about how you combine warming foods with other herbs, spices and ingredients.”

Easily digestible and allergen-free, the chef’s congee is also devoid of dairy, making it suitable for vegans. Gong recommends making a big batch; that way, breakfast is ready to be reheated and enjoyed over the next few mornings!

Savory Summer Millet Congee with Lotus Root and Herbs


Makes four servings

For Herbal Broth

  • 2 tbsp poria fungus (fu ling)
  • 1 cup lotus leaves (he ye), broken into small pieces
  • 2 pieces aged tangerine peel (chen pi)
  • 2 tbsp lotus seeds (lian zi)
  • 2 tbsp goji (gou qi)
  • 4 cups water, bone broth or nut milk

For Congee

  • ½ cup millet, rinsed
  • ¼ cup coix seeds, soaked overnight* (can substitute with other grains or seeds)
  • ½ cup of lotus seeds, rinsed and soaked overnight
  • ⅔ cup diced zucchini
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cups of herbal broth
  • 1 cups of nut milk of choice
  • 2 tbsp of tahini
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnish ideas: Fresh green herbs, sautéed lotus root, winter melon and/or goji berries


1. Rinse all herbs and boil in 4 cups of liquid of choice for 20-30 minutes until it reduces to 2-3 cups. Strain and save liquid. Discard solids.

2. Cook millet, soaked barley, soaked lotus seeds, zucchini, and ginger in herbal broth. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat. Allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes until grains are very soft. During this time, add nut milk ½ cup at a time and continuously stir to prevent sticking. If your grains gets too dry, add more liquid; if your congee is too loose, cook for longer to reduce the liquid.

3. Your congee is ready once your millet becomes soft and creamy! Add tahini and salt to taste. Garnish and serve warm.


  • Strengthens spleen and stomach to build a stronger digestive system
  • Reduces dampness and heat to combat summer humidity

*This recipe was republished with permission from Gong, who partnered with Toronto, Canada’s Eight Branches College of Eastern Medicine to teach an online cooking class on July 7, 2022.

All images courtesy of Zoey Gong. Cover image designed by Haedi Yue

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