Sunday, March 25, 2007

Chinese Rice Porridge/ Congee.

Chinese Rice Porridge.

my new housemate, linzi (read: lindsay), has a penchant for Cantonese-style rice porridge/ congee which i must admit--before i met her--i've never attempted cooking. as i've explained earlier, i'm hainanese and our congee is quite different from how the cantonese prepare theirs. mainly, the difference lies in the viscosity: of all the dialects, the cantonese congee is the most fluid, to the point where it gets mistaken as a soup by the uninitiated.

lucky for us, not only is L. Cantonese, but she also knows her congee recipe well. for the most part, therefore, this recipe will be credited to her!

because linzi and i are going to be terribly busy over the next few days, we're cooking a big pot of congee to last us till wednesday/ thursday.

500g, jasmine rice (washed and drained)
4 cloves, garlic
1-2 inch, ginger
1 pc, chicken stock cube (or 1 cup, chicken stock, or whatever stock you prefer)
1 tbsp, ground white pepper
2 tbsp, sesame oil

substitutable ingredients.
6 pc, dried mushrooms
1 pc, chicken breast
2 stalk, continental parsley (garnishing)
some thai fish sauce (for flavour)

(because the congee is made quite separately, you might want to add prawns, duck meat, beef strips, etc instead. pretty free-form once the congee is done.)

Chinese Rice Porridge: Ingredients.

Special Equipment.
food processor (preferably handheld)


Step 1: Preparing the ingredients
bruise and dice the garlic and ginger.

set the dried mushrooms in boiling water, and let it soak till soft.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Mushrooms In Boiling Water.

remove the mushroom and dice them. set the mushroom broth aside for cooking later.

dice the chicken breast into finer portions.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Chicken and Mushroom Diced.

Step 2: Quick fry of the main ingredients.
set your nice big wok/ pot over a medium flame. pour the sesame oil in. when hot, throw the garlic and ginger in.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Frying Garlic and Ginger.

before they brown, add the rice in and stir fry everything for about five minutes.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Quick Fry.

Step 2: Adding Water and Broth.
pour the mushroom broth into the mixture; remember to keep stirring. add about 10 portions of water--the water to rice ratio for this recipe is roughly 10:1. let the rice cook, but remember to stir intermittently.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Adding Broth and Water.

Step 3: Processing the Congee.
when the rice is more or less cooked, you'll notice that it's broken down quite a bit. however, the rice bits are still somewhat separated from the water. traditionally, the porridge is cooked over the stove for about an hour so that the rice breaks down naturally. thankfully i haven't the patience; we're going to break it down actively.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Before Processing.

turn your flame off, stick your food processor into the pot and let it rip! you'll probably have to spin the stick processor around for at least ten minutes so that you get a beautiful liquid texture out of the congee.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Processing.

when done, return pot to stove.

Step 4: Adding stuff.
this is where we may depart and differ. i'm adding the mushroom chicken in right now. also, i'm adding more water so that the congee becomes even more fluid. the aim is to keep the congee as fluid as possible. so whenever water evaporates over the stove, add a bit into the pot and stir the water in.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Post-Processing & Additional Stuff.

make sure you allow the congee to come to a boil if you added raw meat in.

Final Serve.
taste your congee and you might realise that while it has a nice soothing taste to it, it's not exactly the most flavourful dish. most restaurants prepare their congee in a similar fashion: cook the main congee, remove part of it to add specific ingredients according to your order.

I'm serving my congee with a tsp of Thai Fish Sauce, pinch of continental parsley and pepper. you may decide on some other sauce (e.g. soy sauce, chinese vinegar, etc) or to have none at all. really, it's up to you at this point.

Chinese Rice Porridge: Final Serve.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dark Sauce Pork.

Fuss-Free Dark Sauce Pork.

since we're all pressed for time thesedays, i'll share another fuss-free recipe handed down to me by my granny. the dish is quite a popular (or at least common) one that you can find at most ala carte cooked-food stalls back in singapore. as per normal, my granny does it slightly differently from the rest.

due to the fact that i lack some necessary ingredients for the full-blown recipe, i'll be delineating the differences between what my gran does and what i've done. this way, anyone attempting the full recipe might get a notional understanding of going about cooking it.

500g, San Chen Rou (三辰肉)--literally, three-layer meat/ pork* (i'm using spare ribs instead because it was all i had in the freezer)
10-12 pieces, Chinese Dried Mushrooms (shitake's good)
4-5 cloves, garlic
2 inches, ginger
2 tbsp, Five Spice Powder
5 tbsp, Chinese Rice Wine
1.5 tbsp, ground white pepper
2 tbsp, light soy sauce
.5 cup, dark soy sauce
2 tbsp, sugar

Fuss-Free Dark Sauce Pork: Ingredients.

Missing In My Attempt:
5-6, egg
200g, dried tofu


Step 1: Preparing the meat and everything else.
chop the meat up into bite-size portions, and braise the pork with abt 1.5l of boiling water, and drain the water away. my grandma says it rids the pork of its overly pungent taste.

soak the mushrooms in boiling water until they're all soft. put the water aside to be used for the cooking later. slice the mushrooms.

bruise and dice the ginger and garlic.

full version:
slice the dried tofu into bite sizes.

hard boil the eggs, shell them and set aside for cooking later.

Step 2: The Cooking.
oil your pot or wok and set it on top of a medium flame. when hot enough, throw the garlic and ginger in and stir fry for a minute, making sure that you don't brown it too much.

throw the pork and mushrooms in. add the water in which the mushrooms were soaked as well. stir fry for a bit, before you throw everything else in: (in no particular order) light soy sauce, five spice powder, ground pepper, rice wine, dark soy sauce, and sugar.

bring the whole pot over to your smallest flame, put a lid on it. leave to simmer for about half an hour.

Fuss-Free Dark Sauce Pork: Preparation.

full version:
before you put the lid on, throw the eggs and tofu in. let them soak up the sauce and simmer with the rest of the ingredients.

Final Serve.
like i always say: best served with rice! (yes, i'm a proud yellow, rice-loving "smells a bit like soy sauce" chink.)

Fuss-Free Dark Sauce Pork: Final Serve.

Additional Notes:
San Chen Rou. i'm quite sure this refers to streaky slab, seeing as how they both refer to the cut from the pig's belly. it's important to use this cut of the pork because this dish actually depends on the oil you'll get from the layers of fats for additional taste. and yes, it gets pretty oily after a while, so consume with discretion.

Recooking. my grandmother reboils the dish whenever we have a meal. the more you recook it, the nicer it gets. basically, it takes time for all the ingredients to infuse one another. so if you can, cook a whole pot of it and experience the wonders of this dish getting tastier by the day. you may also add new hard-boiled eggs whenever you run out.

Wounds & Dark Sauce. the chinese believe that people with wounds that are still healing should avoid eating dark-colored food, especially dark sauce. it causes the wound to heal with a dark tone; i've got brown patches on my legs from when i was young as evidence. seeing as how i just got inked at the nape, i really shouldn't be promoting this recipe right now. oops :(

I'm singing in the Kitchen.

"Yes, I'm dreadfully sorry for the lack of updates ... but you see, my kitchen ... is flooded."

alright, thats not the REAL reason why there haven't been updates from me ... I just haven't had the time to cook anything remotely interesting recently.

but my kitchen, really is flooded.

fun times.

i'll be free by tuesday.

i promise something after.


Much Less Digest.

Thanks for Coming!

apologies for the want of updates. both L. and i have been so caught up with school that we hardly have time to ingest, much less digest or even cook anything. thesedays, my best meals are delivered to me by Classic Curry Company (03-93294040), which says more than it should about my recent dietary habits--my staple: butter chicken, tandoori chicken, plain naan, chapati, and mango lassi. (their lamb biryani's pretty good as well).

just a shout out to the various people with whom we've earned your mention or/ and linkage:

No Stupid Questions... Just Stupid People.
torby's so cute we could eat him!!! careful the womb raider doesn't come in and steal him away.

Totally Addicted To Taste.
there's nothing sexier than a cutie who loves his cooking; go you!

Smell & Taste.
we don't care what Steven thinks of your western food, we'll pay for your fail-proof chinese meals anyday.

What I Cooked Last Night.
you know what's really funny? we get a lot of hits from people googling "how to make cum taste good". we'll explore that inquiry right when cum appears in the quicky bag on Ready, Steady, Cook.

Noodles and Rice.
who ever knew that rock sugar has such a rich history!?

Everything You Needed to Know.
your partner and you really don't have to suffer the desserts in agony. why don't you send them over to me, and i'll (in low insinuating mafia tone) settle them for you.