Tag Archives: rice cooker

Leftovers Congee with Faux Fish Katsu and Crispy Garlic

Dear Readers -all five of you’s (besides the spammers),
Besides being busy with real life, I’ve had a few dud recipes I am still tinkering with before I admit to having tried them at all. I have more busy life adventures coming up too, so this blog may continue to fall off…
When I’m 80 and looking back (hopefully I’ll be so lucky), I’m pretty sure I won’t say, “aw man, I wish that instead of spending time with people in person I had updated my food blog more!” Plus, I’m pretty sure when you’re 80 and looking back (I wish you the same luck), no one in the history of the world ever said, “aw man! I wish I’d had more blog entries to read about food!”

Random Sunday brunch trial time! ..based in leftover rice from restaurant Revel‘s rice bowl dish with short rib, sambal daikon, and mustard green, plus inspirations from my “roommate”‘s meal selections on trips to Tokyo, and another friend’s rendition of Chicken Arroz Caldo (click here for a random example recipe). My mother would make me really bland congee as a kid when I was sick (or perfectly healthy). Along with fried rice, rice porridge can be a great dish to stretch the rice you have. I took a verbal test in Chinese language once involving a hypothetical dialogue at a fancy hotel, and I still remember my professor being surprised I ordered congee. That was when I learned it’s considered poor folk’s food. Little did he know, they still serve congee at the fancy breakfast buffets in high-end hotels in Asia, because people still like it there too. I seen it with me own eyes.

Leftovers congee with faux fish sticks and crispy garlic, ..and a fried egg, and chives, and corn hiding underneath..
Leftovers congee with faux fish sticks and crispy garlic, and a fried egg, and chives, and corn hiding underneath..

Leftovers Congee* with Faux Fish Katsu and Crispy Garlic

Ingredients:
About 1 cup leftover restaurant rice (the more random delicious flavors in it from, say, short ribs, the better)
~2 cups chicken broth**
~2 cups boiling water**

Optional Toppings:
3 frozen fish sticks
1 tsp chives, minced (could also do scallions)
1 raw egg
1/4 tsp shredded ginger (not included this time, but only because I’m pretty sure there was already ginger in the rice)
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup frozen sweet corn
optional but recommended if you make the garlic: breath mints

*Note: this recipe is titled congee, but there are near-infinite variations on this dish across Asia, and even in Portugal (see wikipedia article).
**Liquid amounts are approximate, usually a 1:4 ratio is good for porridge, but it depends on how you like it. Various areas and individual people prefer from runny porridge, to really thick porridge. If you find it is too thick you can always add more water or broth.

Directions:
1. Boil rice in broth and water until it reaches your desired consistency, 45-1.5 hrs. This can be done via a rice cooker, or in a more watchable format on stovetop. I actually started mine in my high-tech rice cooker so I wouldn’t have to tend it, then found it was too runny for my taste and boiled it on the stovetop another 10 minutes to thicken.
2. Meanwhile, prepare fish sticks per packaging. Toast for a few minutes at the end for extra crunchiness.
3. Set a frying pan with the olive oil to medium heat, once pan is hot, add garlic slices, flipping a few times and frying for just a few minutes until golden brown on both sides. Be careful to take garlic off the pan before it gets to burning.
4. Use the residual oil in the pan to fry an egg over easy on the pan.
5. Assemble toppings on rice (put the sweet corn on the bottom of your bowl before you load in the soup) and enjoy!

This Week’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
3 of 5 stars
I usually have rice porridge with dried pork sung, but was abysmally low on it in the pantry (since I no longer will just eat it straight out of the package like I did when I was a kid, so supply habits are low), but was on a fish stick kick from yesterday, it was okay but I generally feel a little bad about eating such a processed food. The crispy garlic was quite novel and delicious, though. I may make that again next time i feel like making congee.
Likelihood of Repeat: 65%
Unlikely to deign to make frozen fish sticks with this again, but it was worth the shot. I think next time it may be worth trying to boil it with all broth and not water.
Lesson Learned: The egg did not need to be completely done to the level desired for eating, since it continues to cook once placed atop the rice porridge, some pickled vegetables might have been nice to try too. I think I would rather have done scallions than chives..
Post-script: I had dragon garlic breath the rest of the day, so it may be good to have some breath mints or a toothbrush and toothpaste on hand.

Reader Input:
Do you make a ridge porridge? What variations do you like to do, and what are your favorite things to top it with?

What -Berry Salad?!

WheatberrySaladCompleteNope, wheat berry salad!
I posted recently about the wonders of rice cookers, and promised to take a gander at the Wheat Berry Salad I stumbled on in my related googling adventures. So here it is, nearly unaltered from Tiny Urban Kitchen’s original post:

Wheat Berry Salad
Ingredients:

1 cup soft white wheat berries
2 cups water
dash of salt
1 orange bell pepper
1/3 red onion
2 roma tomatoes
1 cucumber
1/4 cup nuts (pine nuts shown here, I think pecans or almonds would work fine too)

Steps
1. Toast the wheat berries in a skillet for ~4 minutes on medium high heat. Stir often, for the wheat berries will begin to brown and even start popping. You may want to get a lid or splatter screen just in case.
2. Soak the wheat berries in water for 1 hour, or in my case, overnight in the rice cooker with the timer set for 5:30 PM. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can bring the wheat berries to a boil in a pot of water on the stove top and then let simmer for about 45 minutes.
3. While you’re waiting for it to finish, finely chop: 1 orange bell pepper, 1/3 red onion, 2 roma tomatoes, and 1 cucumber.
4. Lightly toast nuts.
5. When wheatberries are done cooking, dress the cooked wheatberries with a bit of sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and a little black pepper to taste.
6. Finally, mix in vegetables, onion, and nuts into wheatberries, can be served warm straight from the rice cooker, or cold.
When I prepped it, I kept the onions and pine nuts separate, since the raw onions could be a little heart burny, and I added the pine nuts at the last minute so I could keep them crunchy for lunch.

Toast wheatberries, soak overnight, have the robot cook it, chop other stuff, toast nuts, mix. Nom.
Toast wheatberries, soak overnight, have the robot cook it, chop other stuff, toast nuts, mix. Nom.

This week’s trial recipe rating:
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, these wheatberries have a delightful pop when you bite down on them! All the bright-colored vegetables I added made it a really appealing-looking dish to eat, with just the right crunch from the peppers and cucumbers. It was also super easy to bring for lunch and eat cold, but still feel satisfied. Score one for small portion efforts.
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
I’m definitely going to make this again, and maybe even branch out to try a different vinaigrette combo with it, or add goat cheese or craisins. Besides the time it took to cook the actual grains, the rest of the prep was super fast since it didn’t require any more cooking.

Home-made Tofu

(November Week 2 Trial)

Through the magic of the Internets (i.e. user manuals online) I know that my fancy Sanyo 5-cup rice cooker (a long ago wedding registry gift) can also steam food, make porridge, work like a slow cooker, do all of these things at a set time in the future, and, in theory, make tofu.* Sorry in advance for the length of this entry, but the number of steps and attention to pay corresponds..

Why would anyone make tofu? That’s gross!

No my friend, I love tofu. Not the flavorless, grainy, mealy-textured stuff you find at the Western groceries, no, the soft, velvety smooth (still pretty flavorless) stuff from the Asian groceries, or the stuff they sell in the back of Northwest Tofu, a Seattle-based Taiwanese breakfast establishment. A light, refreshing snack if you cut it cold in chunks, pour a little soy sauce over, and sprinkle lightly with MSG-laden furikake (admittedly not the healthiest choice). ..or a good melt-in-your-mouth mild complement to spicy pork and sauce in mapo tofu. ..or fried tofu, crispy and salty on the outside and melty on the inside, like a deep fried cheese curd but probably better for you. Still not convinced? That’s okay, you can just skip this entry. As for me, I’m stickin’ to my roots and giving this another try (mainly for the novelty).

INTRODUCing first..in the left corner, hailing from Sanyo by way of the internet, our rice cooker tofu-making method,

Ingredients:
Northwest Tofu soymilk (unsweetened)
Nigari (leftover from the first failed attempt in my house)

For this one, I just tried to follow the manual instructions to the letter, only moderation was that I started with just-boiled water from the percolator.
1. Rinse tofu container with hot water just before adding ingredients.
2. Add 500 ml (2 cups) boiled water to the outer rice cooker bowl.
3. Add .34 oz (wtf?! Who uses ounces? google told me this was about 2 tsp) nigari, which apparently is “a natural coagulant of magnesium chloride made by evaporating seawater,” per Pat, of The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook.
4. Set rice cooker to ‘tofu’ setting.
5. Push Start.
6. 1 hour later: done.

It looks like so:

rice cooker tofu steaming method
rice cooker tofu steaming method

Hahahahaha. Steps 4 and 5 are zingers if you don’t have a fancy schmancy rice cooker, right?

AAANNdd in the OPPOSITE CORNER, our manual method, ALSO hailing from the internet, from The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook, Homemade Tofu – No Fancy Equipment Necessary!

Ingredients:
Northwest Tofu soymilk (500 ml)
~2 tsp epsom salt (who knew you cooked with it?!)
“tofu press,” compliments of Whole Foods’ goat cheese container plus drainage holes:

DIY tofu press, recouping 0.2% of the original cost from Whole Foods
DIY tofu press, recouping 0.2% of the original cost from Whole Foods

I’m not going to list all the instructions here since the aforementioned link does it better. Just know that I did half the portions. As I was pouring the soymilk (only bought one day ago!) into the pot to boil, I could smell the aromatic deliciousness and chickened out of making the full 4 cups prescribed, choosing selfishly instead to hoard an additional 2 cups to drink in my morning coffee, or maybe even just warmed up with a little sugar stirred in..mmmmm. Maybe it was the halving of portions (but still boiling in a large pot), or maybe I added too much nigari, or too little, but this one turned out a little firmer than expected. Since I used an old Whole Foods container as a makeshift tofu press (just stuck holes in the bottom for drainage -had to pause while draining to poke the holes bigger-) and I ended up with a surprisingly small amount to work with, I ended up with a bit of a funny round shape, which did not photograph well. However, the flavor was delicious. As of the writing of this I have already ‘snacked’ on half of it!

Manual tofu method: many many more steps and attention paid.
Manual tofu method: many many more steps and attention paid. The epsom salt reads “saline laxative,” mmmm.

..and back to the rice cooker tofu:
I noticed I had 8 minutes to spare after making the manual stuff before the cooker was due to be done.
manual (1 hr 5 minutes): 1
rice cooker (42 minutes, may be less because I made so little): 0

Manual tofu method: drizzled with a little honey as dessert.
Manual tofu method: drizzled with a little honey as dessert. Looks good, tastes chalky. :p

How did these two methods stack up?

Time: it’s sort of a toss up, since the manual is shorter, but you don’t have to touch the rice cooker one after you set it.
Flavor: manual tastier. About 2/5th of the rice cooker tofu was eaten for dessert at dinner, but only out of politeness and with honey to mask the odd chalky taste.
Texture: the rice cooker tofu was lighter and more airy, which is the way I like my tofu. I shouldn’t be too surprised since the other recipe mentioned how the author likes firmer tofu.

Ultimately, manual method wins!
I think taste always trumps texture, since you can do something about texture, but if you start with an awkward taste, it can be hard to escape. If I made a lot more, I could totally turn that manual method tofu into mapo tofu and you wouldn’t care about it being a little firmer. I think next time I’ll try the rice cooker method with epsom salt and see how it goes. It’s possible it has a different coagulation rate and it won’t work at all, but it’s worth a shot.

Also of note: happy birthday to my friend whose birthday was on Sunday! It was an honor to treat you to delicious brunch, and have an excellent excuse to pick up fresh soymilk from Northwest Tofu. You seem wiser and happier with each year, and I wish you many more.

This week’s trial recipe ratings:
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
I think next time I’ll try the manual tofu recipe with a little less epsom salt, but in the rice cooker.

*Oh, and you can make hard [over]boiled eggs. Just throw it in with the rice next time and see. Also learned from my manual-reading: turns out my oven has a “Sabbath Mode.” Who knew?

Incidentally, in the course of checking directions on how to steam soft-boiled eggs the other day, I found this article: Surprising Things You Can Cook with a Rice Cooker, with a bunch of appetizing pictures with recipe links. I’ve saved the wheat berry salad and mac & cheese recipes to try later, although I am still a little wary of trying to make anything that needs crunch in a rice cooker. The mac & cheese may be too many intermittent steps, and the delicious-looking Lemony Risotto with Shrimp definitely was. Then you might as well do it on the stovetop.

Let me know if you try any of these and want to do a guest blog post!