RECIPE: Comfort food from Double Awesome Chinese Food

It's cold and wintery outside. Here's the perfect comfort recipe from the three siblings behind Double Awesome Chinese Food to warm you up!

Simple Rice Porridge

This xi fan is the kind we grew up eating—ideal for cooking on a budget and cold winter nights. It’s great for kids, with a texture perfect for the youngest of eaters and the fun of designing your own bowl. We also appreciate a meal that can be made with a minimum of effort—combine the rice and water and just simmer away while you gather your toppings of choice.

In our house, xi fan was the equivalent of chicken noodle or matzo ball soup—the Chinese grandma’s version of Jewish penicillin. We’d slurp this cozy, filling rice porridge, also known as jook or congee, when sick in bed, upset, or otherwise needing a big bowl of comfort.

Ingredients:

1 cup (185 g) white rice
10 cups (2.4 kg) water (or broth or stock)
Kosher salt

Directions:

Combine the rice and water in a large pot over medium-high heat. No need to wash the rice; the additional starch will help thicken the porridge. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat slightly and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt. We like a soupy consistency, so add a bit more liquid if it thickens too much.

Remove from the heat, season with salt, and ladle into bowls. Top with your desired toppings and serve immediately. Leftover porridge can be cooled and refrigerated for 2 to 4 days. To reheat, stir in additional liquid until it reaches your desired consistency and heat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

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Toppings:

Toppings are really the way to kick this porridge party into gear. Here are a few of our favorites (all page numbers refer to the book):

PROTEINS

• Seven-minute egg—Our ideal boiled egg with an oozy yolk. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan and slowly lower 2 to 4 eggs into the water. Simmer for 7 minutes, then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Peel carefully and slice in half.
• Let’s be honest . . . any kind of egg. Try a fried egg or a poached egg—Irene particularly likes stirring in some soft scrambled eggs.
• Red-Cooked Beef (page 158)
• Bacon bits
• Roast Pork Belly (page 166), cut into chunks
• Meat of your choice, cut or shredded into bite-size pieces
• Tofu cubes

SOUR/FERMENTED

• Quick Pickled Carrots (page 24)
• Pickled mustard greens
• Kimchi
• Sauerkraut

SAUCE

• Cranberry Sweet and Sour Sauce (page 15) or Apple Hoisin Sauce (page 16)
• Soy sauce
• Toasted sesame oil
• Sriracha, sambal oelek, or Chili Oil (page 20)
• Ginger Scallion Oil (page 18)

VEGETABLES

• Roasted root vegetables, diced
• Stir-Fried Greens (page 48)
• Charred broccoli or cauliflower
• Sautéed mushrooms
• Sliced or toasted avocado

GARNISH

• Thinly sliced scallions
• Nori
• Herbs such as cilantro, mint, parsley, or basil
• Sesame or hemp seeds
• Fresh or pickled ginger

CRUNCH

• Crushed peanuts
• Fried Shallots (page 21)
• Fried onions
• Fried garlic
• Crushed tortilla chips
• Sliced youtiao (aka Chinese crullers)
• Croutons