Comfort Food: Rice Porridge

Early dark evenings make me crave warm comfort food. In Japan, this meal conjures your mother’s consoling touch, a gentle dish to eat when you didn’t feel well, food to soothe an upset stomach, a cozy homey dinner to simply enjoy.
This is the first time I’ve made this recipe for Mr. Tess, and I know he likes brown rice. It takes a little longer to cook, but it has a nice nutty flavor and no doubt more vitamins than the traditional white.


Early dark evenings make me crave warm comfort food. In Japan, this meal conjures your mother’s consoling touch, a gentle dish to eat when you didn’t feel well, food to soothe an upset stomach, a cozy homey dinner to simply enjoy.




This is the first time I’ve made this recipe for Mr. Tess, and I know he likes brown rice. It takes a little longer to cook, but it has a nice nutty flavor and no doubt more vitamins than the traditional white.

The basic porridge is made with rice and water, dashi, or chicken stock. But there are variations which include vegetables: daikon, corn, spinach or other greens, kizami nori (shredded seaweed), mushrooms, carrots, green onions, umeboshi; chicken: sliced breast or fillet, or small cubes of thigh, or eggs; seafood: fugu (blowfish), salmon roe, oysters, crab meat, turtle, sea bream, and even lobster. Sometimes the stock is flavored with ginger, miso, or bonito flakes.

Condiments to eat with the rice soup might include fried garlic, chopped peanuts, shiso, ginkgo nuts, La-yu sesame chili oil, pepper, cilantro…



Notice that these ginkgo nuts are 3-sided: a lucky shape, like a 4-leaf clover.



Baby beets are probably not a traditional leafy green in Japan, but I couldn’t resist them. This is just about the last of my shiso and the leaves were a little tough so I had to cut out the central rib. Daylight savings time ended today, so no more shiso, early dark evenings…

Rice Consommé with Chicken
Tori Zōsui

adapted from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 308
serves 2 to 3 as a light main dish
  • 4 cups dashi
  • 8 ounces skinned and boned chicken breast,
    cut into strips 2″ long 1/4″ wide
  • 1 teaspoon usukuchi shoyu (light colored soy sauce)
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups cold cooked Japanese brown rice
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • fresh-ground black pepper
  • Layu (chili-flavored sesame oil)
  • 1 bunch mitsuba, cut into 1-inch lengths or coriander or watercress
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted peanuts, chopped fine

In a medium pot, bring the dashi to a boil over medium heat. Add the chicken, bring it to a boil, and skim the foam until no more appears. Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes. (Note: blanch the chicken first before adding it so the broth will be more clear.)
Season the stock with shoyu, mirin, and salt. Increase the heat to medium, add the day-old rice, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring with a pair of cooking chopsticks or a fork to separate the rice grains. Cook the rice uncovered for 3 minutes.
Little by little, pour the beaten eggs over the ends of the chopsticks or over the fork tines and evenly onto the rice. Cover the rice, and cook it for a minute or two on low heat.
Add a generous amount of black pepper and chile oil, and give a few large stirs.
Serve the rice consommé garnished with mitsuba greens and peanuts.

Tori Zosui Japanese Rice Soup Click the pictures to read more about rice porridge
in Japan and across Asia.

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5 thoughts on “Comfort Food: Rice Porridge

  1. Really, though, I enjoyed the heartiness and bulk of the rice. The spiciness complemented the shiso and greens nicely. Shiso is still new in our Michigan food universe, and I’m appreciating it in different surroundings as I acquire a taste for it. It contributed a good portion of the character of this dish.

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