Sunday, January 22, 2012

Let's talk about rice part 3 - rice as comfort food

Rice can be a comfort food, as everyone knows. I remembered eating the recipes below when I was a bit under the weather. When I was little, it wasn't chicken soup that was our "go-to" sick meal. No, my mother usually prepare porridge and/or twice-cooked steamed rice.

These recipes bring back fond memories of childhood. When I was little, my cousins and I would go on a vacation to the mountains (about 3 hours trip from where I lived) with our parents and grandparents. Around brunch time there were street peddlers walking around the villa peddling porridge. And we'd buy them, and eat them on the porch. Or we'd walk to a playground nearby the villa and buy the porridge there.

Porridge at the time was like chili in the winter.

The porridge recipe here is slightly different than street peddlers' recipe. But,  just the same, it brings the same comfort level. Memories of childhood, and my late-beloved grandmother, the greatest cook ever walked the earth.

Twice-cooked steamed rice

2 chicken breasts, diced
5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms, diced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1/4 cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce
1 tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs cooking oil

For the rice: 
Follow the basic recipe for chicken rice.

For the soup:
1 - 2 cm ginger, bruised
1 bouillon cube or 1/2 tbs chicken stock powder
2 cups water
salt to taste
1 cucumber julienned
1 scallion, sliced 

1. Saute the garlic in cooking oil. 
2. Add chicken and shiitake mushrooms, cook until chicken is fully cooked.
3. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, salt, and sugar, adjust the taste.
4. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionaly.
5. Add sesame oil, stir evenly, continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
6. Remove from heat.
7. Spoon around 1-2 tbs of the cooked chicken onto ramekins that was previously sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (or brushed lightly with butter/oil).
8. Spoon 3-4 tbs of cooked chicken rice, press down firmly.
9. Cover ramekins with aluminum foil and place them onto deep baking pan filled water up to 1/2 the height of the ramekins.
10. Bake at 350 F for 30-45 minutes, until the rice becomes "cakey".
11. While baking, prepare the soup by simmering water with ginger, cucumber, bouillon cube/stock powder, and salt. Adjust taste.
12. To serve: unmold the rice from the ramekins and serve with the soup on the side. Garnish with scallions

1. I've never used fresh shiitake mushroom for this recipe, simply because I rarely found them. I usually buy dried shiitake mushrooms and reconstitute them by soaking in water overnight. You can also substitute with sliced mushrooms.
2. I like the chicken dish to be a bit on the sweeter side to balance the saltiness of the soup and the chicken rice.
3. I've tried making this with brown rice and it works just as well, except that brown rice is less "cakey". This just means that it wasn't very pretty when I unmold it from the ramekins.
4. This is a recipe that I don't recommend eating with spicy sauce, although it tastes good with it.
5. I highly recommend the Indonesian sweet soy sauce and fish sauce for this recipe. I suppose you can make do without them, just that it wouldn't taste the same.
6. If you don't want to use bouillon cube/chicken stock powder, use liquid chicken broth (or make your own broth). Eliminate water and use straight 2 cups of chicken broth.

Rice porridge

1 cup rice
3-4 cups water
1 bouillon cube
2 cm ginger, bruised
1/2 - 1 tbs salt
3 cloves of garlic chopped

1 chicken breast diced small
1 fish fillet (preferably mild fishes such as tilapia)
1-2 sheets of fish cakes, sliced lengthwise (2-3 cm long)
1/4 lb ground chicken

There are two different versions you can make: chicken porridge, or fish porridge.

For chicken porridge:
1. Marinate diced chicken with 1/2 tbs sesame oil and 1/4 tsp salt for 30 minutes, or mix ground chicken with 1/2 tbs sesame oil and 1/4 tsp salt, and form into small meatballs.

For fish porridge:
1. Slice fish fillet to 2-3 cm long, 1/2 cm thick and marinate with juice of 1 lime and 1/2 tsp salt for 30 minutes. Drain after marinating.

General directions:
1. Using a slow cooker, mix together rice, water, bouillon cube, ginger, and chopped garlic.
2. Drop the meats for either chicken/fish porridge to the above mixture (don't stir, at this point the meat, especially the meatballs, isn't firm enough to stir).
3. Cook overnight on low, or 2-3 hours on high.
4. Adjust the taste with salt before serving.

1. If you don't have slow cooker, boil the rice in deep soup pot on a stove top. The problem with this is that you'd have to constantly watch it and add water. With slow cooker, you just have to set it up and forget about it. You can also use rice cooker, refilling the water every so often until it reaches the right consistency.
2. You can opt to use the fish cakes and skip the fish marinating altogether. I used both fish and fish cake in my porridge.
3. To serve, depending on what "style" you prefer, here are some options:

  • Basic: you can serve it in a bowl garnished with only scallion, which is the simplest version. 
  • Indonesian version #1 (from the town where my parents were born): prior to serving, poach some eggs in the porridge (just drop raw egg into the slow cooker and poach for 3-5 minutes) and serve with one poached egg per bowl. Serve with boiled turnip mustard cut to 3-4 cm length and cooked ground pork.
  • Indonesian version #2 (Sundanese, similar to the one I had when I was a kid): skip the ginger. Shred some leftover rotisserie chicken breast meat, add some roasted soy nuts, and sweet soy sauce. If you want to go the extra length, make some stir-fried scallion by slicing 1-2 scallions rough and cooking it in a bit of oil and salt with the addition of 2-3 tbs water. Serve with shrimp crackers
  • Indonesian version #3 (this is from street peddlers commonly found around my home): skip the ginger, use shredded chicken, and serve with peanut sambal (dilute 1/2 tbs peanut butter in water until watery, add vinegar, salt, and hot sauce to taste).
  • Thai version (the way I remembered it when I visited): skip the ginger, make some chili sauce by slicing 1-2 Thai bird's eye chili (use with caution, these are spicy), sliced 1-2 cloves of garlic and marinating them in 1 tbs fish sauce and 1/4 - 1/2 tbs vinegar.
  • Chinese version (one of many): use sliced Chinese cruller, which should be available frozen, as a topping. I've also seen it served with 1000-year-old egg (peeled and chopped, and stirred in). Add 1 tbs sesame oil to the porridge.
On a side note, this concludes our discussion about rice.

No comments:

Post a Comment