Sunday, November 21, 2010

Porridge...



Rice porridge, aka congee and, in Vietnamese, "cháo," is a standard comfort food in every Asian culture. It is eaten for breakfast, with dinner, as a sub for rice and is the food of choice for all sick days. I LOVE rice porridge. 
On freezing blizzard days like today (so such snow, omg!) there will always be a piping hot pot simmering on one of my burners. Next to it, a plate of raw garnishes - cilantro, scallion and ginger. To all of my friends who've bugged me about the recipe, here it is! This is my take on the popular Asian rice porridge.

*Awesome Rice Porridge*

For the rice porridge:
8 cups of water
½ cup raw rice (I’m using white jasmine rice)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
½ cup cut corn (frozen or fresh)
3 eggwhites (eggwhites separated from 3 eggs)
2 large shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped

Garnish:
1 bundle of cilantro, chopped
bundles of scallion (also known as green onion), chopped
3 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
2-3 teaspoons of fish sauce
Fresh ground pepper
 
Fried Shallots: 
1 teaspoon oil
2 tablespoon fresh shallot, coarsely chopped
Salt, a pinch
Pepper, a pinch

Optional Protein: left-over steak, fish, shrimp, etc.whatever!

(1)   Bring to a boil 8 cups of water in a 2 quart pot.   Add ½ cup raw rice and 1 tablespoon ginger. Let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir a few times.
(2)   While the soup is simmering, in a separate pan, add 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, add 2 tablespoon fresh chopped shallot. Fry and stir once until golden brown. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the fried shallots to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.
(3)   Back to the pot. Add the sliced shitake mushroom, ½ cup cut corn, 1 tablespoon garlic and stir in the 3 eggwhites. Keep the heat on medium to high and stir until you see the eggwhites turn opaque into long strands. (Think ‘eggdrop soup.’)
(4)   Prepare the garnishes: chopped cilantro, chopped ginger, chopped scallion. Have ready a pepper grinder and bottled fish sauce.
(5)   For each serving, ladle 2 cups of porridge in a bowl. Garnish with a spoon of cilantro, scallion, ginger and fried shallots. Add about ½ teaspoon fish sauce (or more to taste). Add fresh pepper. For a more substantial soup, add sauteed vegetables, slices of steak or any cooked protein. Left-overs work great!

(I love my new IKEA Metalj 2 quart pot! Comes with a roundish steel lid with vents, not pictured here. Sleek modern design boils water quickly.)
In a 2 quart pot, bring to a boil 8 cups of water. Add ½ cup raw rice grains and...
 ...1 tablespoon ginger. Cover and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Stir at least once.
While the rice is cooking, evolving into porridge, cook up the shallots. In a separate pan, add 1 tablespoon oil. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoon fresh shallot. Fry and stir once until golden brown. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper. Transfer the fried shallots to a plate lined with a paper towels. This will be added to the porridge at the end.
These burnt crispy Fried Shallot crumbs are friggin awesome! You just WAIT.
So, back to the pot. Add 1/2 cup of frozen corn.
 And the sliced shitake mushrooms. These were gigantic shitakes, so I cut up 2.
Bring the soup to barely-a-boil and add the eggwhites (from 3 eggs) to the pot.
Stir in the eggwhites quickly with a spoon or long chopsticks until they turn into opaque white strands. Then TURN DOWN THE HEAT. If you don't turn the heat down, everything will foam, boil over and... and....
...become one big messy boil-over. See (below), this is what happens when you forget to turn down the heat :( No worries - 95% of the porridge still made it! Okay, where was I... Oh, now add a tablespoon chopped garlic.
If you haven't already, chop up some cilantro, scallion and ginger. These 3 items plus your Fried Shallots will top off the porridge right before serving. This save well for a few days in a tight ziplock bag.
Hubby and Zach were hanging around and hinted about being hungry. Perfect timing! Ladle up some porridge into a nice deep bowl.
Add a spoonful of cilantro, scallion, ginger and Fried Shallots...
For hubby, a pescatarian: extra pepper and sauteed shitake mushrooms left over from an earlier meal.
And for some unami-ness, 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce (or more for saltier). Serve!
For carnivore Zach: add thinly sliced tenderloin (also a left-over) and....
.... 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce. If it is still a tad bland, add more fish sauce, salt and/or ginger.
And 4-5 turns of pepper mill. Serve!
OR: sear up some miso Chilean Seabass...and...top of the porridge. OMG!!!
The fresh ginger and fried shallots just kill itthe ultimate comfort food. Garnish with your favorite herbs and left-overs. Really, anything goes! Soooo perrrrfect for snowy days like today :)
I am loving this song and can't get get the beat out of my head: Nas & Damian Marley, 'Patience.' 

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