Because we’re staring down a heckalotta hospital bills suddenly, I am having to revert my thinking back to Cheap. Particularly in the Food Department, because that’s where I spend most of the household money. So, calling upon memory has been entertaining, as well as kind of…whadyacallit…sentimental. It turns out, as much as I like things like roasted wasabi almonds and a perfectly grilled steak, I also like the cheap stuff, probably as much (if not more) than the pricey steaks and fancy nuts. Stuff like, pintos cooked with a smoked hock and a wedge of hot cornbread drizzled with honey. yum! Tonight’s Cheap Fare involves rice. Good old white rice, cooked to a mush with a little chicken broth and served with a smattering of condiments dug out of the fridge. Congee, it’s called in China, or Jook, in Thailand. Typically it’s a breakfast food, but we like it for supper. It is hot and filling, and excels at stretching a bit of meat over 4 bowls, and at using up that handful of cilantro, too much to throw away and not enough for a pico de gallo. Have a handful of peanuts rattling in the bottom of a jar? Throw them on the congee. Got a chicken breast? Chop it up, sizzle it in a skillet so it’s nice and crusty, and sprinkle some on top. A green onion? How about Pork Fu?
I discovered Pork Fu a while back, it’s a funky stuff, akin in texture to fiberglass insulation, with a porky-salty-soya flavor and it’s mighty good in congee. Cheap,too.
Anyway, here’s the recipe:
8 cups water (or 1/2 water 1/2 chicken broth, that’s how I make it)
1-1/2 cups rice
cook the rice in the water/broth for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until it makes a nice thick gruel. Serve in bowls and put out bowls of assorted toppings:
crispy sizzled chopped chicken breast or pork
sliced green onion
chopped pickled cucumbers (sliced cucumbers covered with 1 part water, 1 part vinegar, let sit in the fridge)
coarsely chopped peanuts
anything else you can think of that might be good: seaweed, perhaps, or chopped mushrooms, dried fish…whatever.
snow peas, shredded