Sunday, August 31, 2008
Bubur Ayam / Chicken Congee
Of course I do miss Indonesian food, but I have long letting go of that sudden cravings. One, I enjoy fixing it up in my own kitchen. Two, I stock up enough instant gratification quick snacks (i.e. shrimp crackers, frozen Asian style meat/fishballs, frozen red bean popsicle, etc.) Three, there are gazillion different food here for me to try - I am too busy thinking about which new place to hit. Vik and I are attempting to try every single restaurant on 5 block radius. And see how long it'll take us to do so.
Howeeverrr, Vik is oddly different. He thinks about Indonesian food more than I do! He describes the food to our friends in a way that I could not muster. Still talking about how we spent full two weeks in my hometown and barely ate similar type of food nor went to one place twice. 14 days, 42 meals, hm..and about 60 snacks in between, heehee. If I remember correctly, there were only two places (his favorites) where we ended up twice.
So few nights ago as weather was a little bit chilly/rainy over the afternoon, he says 'Don't you think it'll be soooo nice if we have bubur ayam for dinner tonight? It'll be such comforting dish after golf in this cool weather.' Been together for almost 7 years, married for 3. Not extravagantly long, but long enough that I know what he is trying to say:.
1. You don't mind I go for 18 holes, do you? - No, I don't mind, we both deserve some break after crazy work hours and the fact that this long weekend is just going to be loaded with work. 2. Can you fix me bubur ayam? - now, truth is I sort of sworn off congee. That's mostly what I ate for a full 3 months at one point of life. But then, of course Vik went to long description of this one bubur ayam he had - more of Indonesian style, with sweet soy, soy bean nuts. Ah, suddenly I craved for it too!! See, he just has this crazy skill in describing food, while he does not even cook!
So anyway, I happily fix up a pot of bubur ayam. There are all type of bubur out there. I can't even begin to describe it. The most that I am familiar with are either Chinese style (from cracking raw egg to the bottom of the bowl, piping hot congee poured on top of it, or eat with salted duck eggs (yum!!) to fish congee) or Indonesian style (most likely involved sweet soy, shredded chicken, krupuk, and sometimes, little spiced broth on top of this rice concoction). In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way of cooking/eating congee. In some version, soft rice grain still visible. Other version, it is just like creamy soup. Thick or thin. Hence, the rice vs water ratio is varied. But, let's just say, you can always thin it out, by adding more water/broth, but once it's too thin, it's almost impossible to thicken it (unless you leave it outside to harden up..eww.).
- 1/2 cup of rice
- 5 cup water/ broth (I have always prefered adding low sodium broth)
- 3 inches of ginger, cut to 2, whacked
- 4 cloves of garlic, grated (or whacked is fine too)
- tiny bit of oil
- 1 tsp of salt
- 3 chicken thighs (with bone - this is a perfect dish to toss in any reserved chicken wing tips, or any bones)
- Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pot. Toss in ginger and garlic. Lightly fry.
- Toss in chicken pieces (I like to sear it for a while). Toss in rice.
- Pour water/broth. Stir. Cover with lid.
- Check pot once a while to stir and making sure it gets to the consistency of personal liking.
- Lift chicken pieces after about 20 minutes (depending on size of chicken pieces). Transfter to plate/ chopping board. Shred.
- At this point, it's absolutely fine to simply toss back shredded chicken to porridge. And just serve/eat it as is. It can be doctored up with sweet soy with sprinkle of crisy shallots - Indo style. Or, drizzle with soy and sesame oil - which bring it to somewhat of Chinese style. The flavor and smell of this congee is just super comforting!
However, we are taking it up a notch by this ingredients:
- handful of unsalted soy bean nuts
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- shredded chicken
- sweet soy sauce
- salty soy sauce
- sambal oelek (optional)
- 2 green onions, chopped (save some for garnish)
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan, toss in shallots and shredded chicken.
- Toss in green onions, and both sweet and salty soy sauce to mixture. Stir for few minutes.
- I like to add the soy bean nuts to the pan too (but it can also be added on its own, just before serving). Stir and fry together with shredded chicken for a little while.
- Serve by scooping up congee to a bowl, top with some chicken mixture, drizzle some more sweet soy sauce, and salty soy (optional), sambal oelek, and garnish with green onions.
Taking up two notches by adding cakwe/yao ja gwai/ you tiao/ Chinese fried dough (crullers) on top of porridge. Don't have any of those though. Just wishful thinking. Maybe I should try to make some. Maybe not.