Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 1

Day 1: Bubur (rice soup) with shrimp 

This humble dish is a staple in many Asian cultures. It is known by the name "congee" in China and "bubur nasi" in Indonesia. I call it "comfort food". There is nothing quite like a nice bowl of warm soup when the weather is cool and you feel like crap. It doesn't take much effort to eat or much effort to cook if you use my method.

We have a 10 cup rice cooker at our house. To make this soup, I put 1 cup of rice and filled the cooker with water to the 4 cup line and mashed the "White Rice" button on the front. I let it run through it's whole cycle (big mistake!) and when it was done, the soup was too thick. Easy to remedy, though. I used my instant hot water dispenser and added about 2 cups of boiling water to thin it down.

For protein, I threw in some smaller pre-cooked shrimp that were previously frozen (a go-to protein source at our house) about halfway through the cook cycle. For flavor enhancement, I put 2 garlic cloves, a small amount of fresh ginger and some green onions (just the whites) in with the water at the beginning of the cook cycle and swished it around a bit to get it mixed in. The result when you open the rice cooker is an aromatic, savory aroma that makes you HONGRY.

Most Asian dishes are served with condiments. True confession time: When my Better Half and I were first married, I would get SO put out because he would put sambal (hot chili sauce) on darn near everything. I was raised that you taste the food before adding anything to it so as not to insult the host/cook. It took about 4 years before I got over it!

Condiments make the soup. Common condiments for rice soup can include:

  • soy sauce
  • Szechuan chili oil
  • sesame oil
  • fish sauce
  • fried shallots
  • green onions (the green parts)
  • fried Chinese bread

The beauty of this is that you can add whatever you like in whatever amount you like to make it your own perfect bowl of soup.

My bowl had fried shallots, green onions, Szechaun chili oil, ginger oil and soy sauce. And it was GOOD. There is this restaurant in Jakarta that serves bubur. It's their main thing they make. They started as a food stall and eventually were a sit-down restaurant (with A/C!). They make about 10 different varieties of this dish. Some with a seafood base, some with pork, some with chicken and on and on. This restaurant was one of my late father-in-law's favorites. And it's one of mine, too. I can't wait to go back there when we go back home again.

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