Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Easy Chicken Porridge with Dried Scallops

What do you do when you're too tired to cook dinner? Sometimes I resort to making porridge or congee.

Porridge is filling yet nutritious and with a rice cooker, you can cook porridge in 1 hour or less.

This time, I will show you how to cook a simple chicken porridge with 3 basic ingredients - chicken, dried scallops and rice.

I use chicken wings because I like the texture and softness of chicken wings but you can use any part of the chicken you like. Chop the chicken meat into fairly large pieces. Set aside.

Wash rice as if you are going to cook rice. A cup of rice is enough for two persons. Put rice into your rice cooker and add 3 times the water. More water is better than less. Your porridge will thicken as it sets.

Into this rice + water mix, add chicken. Add 3 large dried scallops (pre-soak in water to soften). Break up the scallops gently.

That's it. Place the lid on the cooker (do not cover tightly or your porridge will boil over! And what a mess that will be) and switch on the electricity. Stir it every 15 minutes.

As there's more water than rice, the cooker will not turn off automatically until the water is almost dried up. Keep stirring the porridge until it reaches a consistency that you like. I usually boil it for 40 minutes before I turn off the electricity.

Add a little salt and pepper and a good dash of roasted sesame oil (Ghee Hiang brand). The sesame oil makes the world of difference. It's aromatic and brings out the best in your porridge. Trust me.

Once you turn off the electricity, cover the lid tightly so that the porridge will continue to thicken slightly for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with good quality soya sauce like Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce.

Simple, easy and so yummy!

Note: Dried scallop is one of the more nutritious ingredients you can buy. Get the large ones if you can. This is a pricey ingredient (about RM38 for 1 tahil - you get about 20 scallops) but what a tasty ingredient it is. It is also nourishing for the Yin and good for children and the elderly. It imparts a slightly fishy taste to food but a fragrant fishiness. Dried scallops is a premium ingredient which can be used with broccoli too (as you usually see in expensive chinese restaurants).


TC said...

I can't agree more. But what is Chicken Porridge without ginger? There's a great place here in Singapore for CP. It is best eaten with a dollop of the ginger/garlic condiment that is actually for the chilli for the Chicken Rice. You will never want to eat CP anywhere else! If you are ever in Singapore, drop me a line at Like you, I am in design and advertising, and am a true blood Cantonese!

TC said...

Sorry, I mean to give you a longer post, but my two and half year old girl was sitting on my lap and she could be quite a handful.
I started experimenting with porridge cooking for my little girl. Got the hang of it after two months. I think the most important thing for delicious porridge is the stock to cook the rice grains with. The physical aspect of the grains is important too, whether it is crushed, soaked the nite before, mixed with beans (popular in Taiwan) - all to give it an interesting texture. Some even add cereal to give it extra smoothness. In Singapore, you can find many different types of porridge: the smooth HK dim-sum style, the water-logged Teochew muay style, the robust Cantonese style, and even the watery type flavoured with peanuts (my fav).
The Chicken Porridge I mentioned previously is rich with ginger and chicken taste, something a hawker from my childhood area used to sell from a cart. It is simple and fragrant. I now find this comfort porridge from a chicken rice restaurant near Novena MRT station. Eating teh porridge with a big dollop of its rich ginger/garlic condiment brings back childhood memories, not least the bite from the hawker's dog when I walked too close to it one day.
I miss the simple peanut porridge that an edlerly couple used to sell at Queen Street Hawker Centre. It is so watery that it feels more like peanut soup. Folks typically order a side plate of beehoon or noodles dressed with red sweet sauce (these days, the brown one is more common). This meal is simple and yet such a delight. It is also a comfort food for me, one I had eaten as a young boy in the days when the same hawkers had their stalls by the roadside (opp where the old Bugis Street used to be).
I will try and cook up the same porridge soon. I do agree that using chicken wings for porridge adds much flavour. Same goes with necks. (And duck neck porrride with peanuts is another popular winner. Altogether flavourful and cheap to prepare (most vendors are happy to sell you a neck for just 20 cents, or a packet for $2)

TC said...

Oh, try adding dried mussels to teh abovementioned duck porridge. Absolutely robust!