I feel miserable in the last few days due to the gloomy days and finally today we had clear blue sky and cheered me up. I spent an hour in the indoor pool, felt good to have done some exercise. So far this season, I am determined to swim at least twice weekly, hope I can keep this up.
Anyway, this is just a bit of my side story of the day, to be honest, I do not seem to have good appetite lately. When my in-laws came visiting, I was eating very well, and my mother-in law said my metabolic rate is faster than her as I always seemed to feel hungry (LOL)! And now I seem to have gone to the opposite direction. Maybe my body is self-adjusting itself.
Chinese always make plain rice porridge when feeling unwell. All of a sudden I am missing the plain congee but this is not just by cooking with rice and water, there is a secret ingredient added to it, that is the dried bean curd (腐皮)and by chance I happen to have some at home. My parents always like adding dried bean curd to the rice porridge as it will make the congee smoother and result a fragrant with a hint of bean. It is well known that even just a plain congee, this can be tricky to make it perfect. I am super happy with today’s result, the best I have made, so I would like to share some insights with you all.
To go with the congee, I prepared a Chiu Chow style stir fried pork with snake beans. You can also eat with rice too. This is also a dish my mom makes from time to time.
1. Plain rice porridge
- 3/4 cup Japanese short grain rice (you can use long grain rice or jasmine rice of course but after trying out with all of them, it has shown that the rice porridge using Japanese short grain rice results the smoothest)
- 4 cup cold water
- 1 piece dried bean curd
- Soak the dried bean curd in a large bowl of cold water. Leave it for 2 hours or so.
- Using a medium sized deep pan, wash the rice and then fill the pan half full with cold water. Set aside for 1-2 hours.
- After 2 hours, discard the water for soaking the bean curd and place the softened dried bean curd into the pan.
- Bring the pan to boil, in the meantime stir the congee mixture to avoid sticking. Turn to medium high heat and let it cook for an hour or so. Uncover for the first 30 mins. You can cover the lid afterwards but leave it partially open on top as fully covered will make the congee very easy to spill over.
- Stir from time to time to make sure no sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will see the dried bean curd will get smaller and smaller and eventually fully integrated to the congee. In case if the congee is too thick, you can add some boiling water. Adjust to your desired consistency accordingly.
- When the congee is ready, you can season with a little bit of sea salt or even leave out the salt completely, since the side dish is savoury. Or else you can match with your favorite condiments.
- Always soak the dried bean curd with cold water but NOT hot water.
- Do not add any seasonings especially salt to the congee before it is cooked, this is because once there is salt added to the congee, the dried bean curd will not disintegrate further to smaller pieces. Indeed I was told by my mom that some bean curd are less good quality and will affect the results of the congee. If you can almost cannot see the bean curd pieces, then that is the best result.
2. Stir-fried dices
- 80-100g pork loin, cut into small dices and marinate
- 20 snake beans (豆角), cut into small dices
- 1 piece fried tofu (or even better dried tofu 豆干 if you can find which is firmer), cut into small dices
- fresh red chili, cut into small pieces
- preserved sweet radish (菜脯), soak in water for 10 mins, washed, drained and cut into dices
- dried chinese mushrooms or shiitake, hydrate and cut into dices
- 4 cloves garlic, bash
- 1 tsp garlic black bean sauce
- 1 tsp hoisin sauce (or subsititute with yellow bean sauce)
- cooking oil
- dried shrimps, hydrated in water, wash and drain (optional, not used this time)
Marinade for pork:
- 1 tsp chinese rice cooking wine (Shao Hsing rice wine)
- 1 tsp corn starch
- pinch of white pepper
- pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- Prepare the ingredients as described above.
- Heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil in a non-stick wok. When the oil is hot enough, add in the garlic cloves. When they turn slightly golden yellow, add in the diced snake beans and stir fry for a few minutes, then gradually add in the mushrooms, preserved radish, fried tofu, chili one by one. Keep stir frying until the snake beans are almost cooked. Transfer all this to a big bowl and set aside.
- Add a little oil to the wok again and add in the diced pork and stir fry. When the pork is cooked, transfer the snake beans mixture to the wok and stir fry to mix.
- Finally add in the garlic black bean sauce and the hoisin sauce. Mix well and done.
- Serve immediately with congee or rice.
- This dish can serve cool at room temperature.
- This is a Chinese Guangdong dish, I think it is originated from Chiu Chow which does not use snake beans but mainly sweet radish and with some peanuts and dried shrimps. This was probably adapted to a common home cooking dish.
- If you go to a Chiu Chow restaurant, you can order a chiu chow style rice porridge to go with which is simply rice cooked with water, less smooth, cooked in a shorter time and more watery.
Dried bean curd
Preserved daikon-type turnip or Sweet radish strips (菜脯), the same ingredient used in Pad Thai Noodles