One of the most physically annoying things about aging is not the wrinkles & fine lines visibly showing–get on those anti-aging serums, stay out of the sun, use sunblock, moisturize daily, get ahold of some Asian genes, etc–but that agonizing pain in the back of your mandible. You know the pain I’m talking about, right? That jerk wisdom tooth who’s popping up to say, “hey gurl, sup?” & your response is, “BYE FELICIA, DISAPPEAR.” That pain. Yeahhhh, so since I can only pop so many pills of Motrin before I destroy my liver & overdose, all my food choices have been solely categorized under, “can I feed this to a baby?” and “cannot feed to baby.” Thank goodness for my random craving for cháo (also known as congee or rice porridge) a few weeks ago because it’s so easy to make & I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Also, it falls under the, “10/10 can feed this to a baby.” I mean, it’s not exactly healthy to be exclusively eating it because rice is not going to fulfill the essential vitamin spectrum for a healthy body, but look, my mouth hurts to chew so I’m going to choose to slurp on rice porridge. That’s where the versatility comes into play though! Dressing up porridge with your favorite ingredients will help you get over the general boringness that is porridge.
Savory Rice Porridge
Whether you’re eating this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can add what you like to make porridge less boring. I figured I eat most of my Vietnamese dishes with rice anyway, so adding it to cháo is not that much different, just soupier. I was served cháo a lot when I got sick as a kid, but I always added Maggi or soy sauce to it because it was so plain. Likewise, when you eat your porridge in the morning, add an egg to it! For lunch or dinner, add some more protein like tofu, mushrooms, or your choice of meat. Garnish with cilantro, scallions, fried shallots, etc. This is a great base recipe for you to let your creativity & cravings take flight. This recipe can be vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, or whatever-ian!
However, since this is porridge & it takes about an hour & a half to fully break down the grains, it’s great for busy people. Yes, that’s right. Because if you need to be tap tap tapping away on the keyboard, you can set up your dutch oven or nonstick stock pot with your rice & water & walk away for a half hour. Check on it every half hour or so to stir it around. So easy! When it’s done, just ladle it in & add the things you want. You also have a lot of rice porridge for the remainder of the week too, so you don’t have to cook very much!
Tell me about what you used to eat as a kid when you got sick! Do you still crave it or do you hate it?