In Thailand, and much of Asia for that matter, rice porridge (aka congee or jok) is comfort food. Literally, it is the food of choice when your tummy needs a break from the Pepto. Babies eat it, Old people eat it. It’s a gruel (a delicious one) that you can leave plain or customize to your hearts desire and for this reason it is one of the most satisfying things to eat. It’s best made with broken rice, the throwaway rice during the milling process, because it gets really gooey which is the defining characteristic of this stuff. The plainest you can get is just the rice with some scallions, ginger and smattering of white pepper. But you can throw in just about anything, in anything combination you can imagine. I decided to make two versions: one with egg and one with these enormous diver scallops I got at McCall’s Meat and Fish down the street.
Rice Porridge Recipe (courtesy of David Thompson)
1 cups broken rice (alternatively you could break up rice in a food processor? worth a try)
1.5 tbs sticky rice (optional)
pinch of salt
pandanus leaf, knotted
Combine the rices, rinse well and drain. Soak in cold water for 2-3 hours — no longer or the congee will be too thin.
In a large, heavy-based pan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil with some salt and the pandanus leaf, then gradually pour in the rice, stirring gently and constantly as the water returns to a boil. If the uncooked rice sticks to the pan and scorches, the congee is ruined. When the rice begins to swell, turn down the heat to very low, cover with a lid and simmer as gently as possible, stirring regularly and adding more water if needed, until the rice grains have almost dissolved (about 45 minutes or more). Put to one side covered and use within a few hours.
Rice congee with Egg Recipe (adapted from David Thompson)
4 cups of plain rice congee (above)
1 cup light chicken stock
1 tbs sliced scallions
1 tbs chopped cilantro
3 tbs shredded ginger
2 tbs light soy sauce
ground white pepper to taste
Combine the rice congee with the stock and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil, stirring regularly (it bubbles),until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Cover and immer gently for 10 minutes making sure it doesn’t stick to the sides. Crack in the egg and let the congee sit for a few moments without stirring. Sprinkle the ginger and a tbs of light soy sauce and fold in the egg. Sprinkle with scallions and white paper and serve.
I decided that I didn’t want to combine the egg with the scallop so I made another version that was just plain with the seared scallop on top. DELICIOUS.