Rice Consommé with Umeboshi

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Rice consommé is a fair title for this recipe, but it is better described as rice porridge. Porridge connotes comfort and warm pleasure. Picture Goldilocks enjoying the little bowl of porridge—it was “just right!” Porridge is poor man’s food, extending a little grain or legumes with liquid and vegetables. It can be so magical as to offer freedom from poverty and hunger.

There was a poor but good little girl who lived alone with her mother, and they no longer had anything to eat. So the child went into the forest, and there an aged woman met her who was aware of her sorrow, and presented her with a little pot, which when she said, “Cook, little pot, cook,” would cook good, sweet porridge, and when she said, “Stop, little pot,” it ceased to cook. The girl took the pot home to her mother, and now they were freed from their poverty and hunger, and ate sweet porridge as often as they chose.

—Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Sweet Porridge
Translated translated by Margaret Taylor (1884)

Read the amusing conclusion of the Sweet Porridge story.
An overflow of good converts to bad.

—William Shakespeare
The Life and Death of Richard the Second

Click the pictures for more rice consommé recipes!
Tori Zosui Japanese Rice Soup Zosui Risotto tori zosui pancake
Tori Zosui: Japanese Rice Soup Tori Zousui: Japanese Risotto Tori Zousui: Japanese Rice Pancake
various styles of rice porridge in Japan
okayu (お粥) ojiya (おじや) zosui (雑炊)
Okayu is made with uncooked rice. Okayu (sometimes called shira-gayu) is generally very thick, though this can be “adjusted” by varying the ratio of water to rice. Ojiya is made with pre-cooked cold rice and generally left unwashed which results in a thick consistency. Zosui is the same as ojiya, but is washed to remove the surface starch, resulting in a clean and light texture.

Rice Porridge with Umeboshi
Okayu
from Washoku
Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh


page 164
serves 4

  • 2 cups cooked white rice or rice mixed with mixed grains
  • 4 cups dashi, water, or chicken stock
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (I also added a Tablespoon of mirin)
  • 4 uméboshi
  • 4 or 5 shiso leaves, or other tender herbs, or a handful of other greens (turnip, radish, or kale)
  • 4 Tablespoons chirimen-jako (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons nori sauce

If you like a thin porridge, put cooked rice in a strainer and rinse away the surface starch with cold water. Drain. Proceed as below.
If you like your porridge thick and creamy, put the rice into a 2-quart pot with 2 cups of the stock. Stir with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps (not necessary if you rinsed the rice), and cook over low heat.
Stir frequently until the granis of rice swell and begin to lose their shape, about 5 minutes. Season with salt (and mirin) and add the remaining stock. Continue to simmer another few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove pits from uméboshi and mash. Chop the greens. (I would blanch most greens, though shiso, basil, or mint can be used fresh.)
Divide the rice among 4 bowls and arrange greens and uméboshi on top. Serve chirimen and nori sauce on the side. Eat with a spoon (thin gruel) or chopsticks (thick).
Though this porridge is usually eaten with a minimum of additions, here are some suggestions for ojiya:
Layu (chili-flavored sesame oil), pepper, soy sauce, katsouobushi flakes, mitsuba, cut into 1-inch lengths or coriander or watercress, chopped cooked or pickled vegetables, toasted peanuts, chopped fine, small piece of chicken tender, some small shrimp, tofu, or eggs…

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