My grandfather loved this slightly sweet porridge for breakfast but used one stick of cinnamon instead of the Chinese five spice because the five spice was too spicy for his delicate palate. If you don’t have dried cherries, I’m sorry. You can use raisins or dates instead. I like big, juicy California flame raisins and/or Medjool dates if you can get them. I sometimes gild the lily by sprinkling a handful of chopped almonds all over the top.


  • 4 cups [1 L] milk

    Grist Book cover Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes Abra Berens
  • Salt

  • 1⁄2 cup [100 g] rice, most varieties

  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar

  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice (or plain cinnamon) Zest of 1 orange

  • 1⁄2 cup [80 g] dried cherries


In a large saucepan, bring the milk, 2 cups [500 ml] of water, and a pinch of salt to the scalding point over medium-high heat.

Add the rice, brown sugar, and five spice. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, stirring regularly to keep the rice from sticking or the pot from boiling over, about 20 minutes.

When the rice is tender, remove from the heat. Add the orange zest and cherries and let sit for 5 minutes to plump the cherries before serving.

Reprinted from Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes by Abra Berens with permission from Chronicle Books, 2021. Photographs © EE Berger.

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