In Malaysia, a dish that you will find in many hawker stalls and in fact even some Restaurants is Porridge. It's also a great dish to make at home and many a household would have their own variation of a rice porridge. This porridge is savoury rather than sweet and is known by many a different name, depending on which culture you are referring to. The Chinese call it Chiook, the Indians may refer to it as Kanji, the Malays call it Bubur while the English would call it Congee. These are the names that I am familiar with anyway. A quick check on Wikipedia will show you that there are many other different names and variations for this simple rice dish. As Shakespeare might say, a porridge by any other name would taste just as great!
I really enjoy a good porridge and it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Many a Malaysian hotel will serve Porridge as one of the items on their buffet spread. The porridge will be in a large steaming pot while the condiments and 'fillings' would include shredded chicken, liver, sesame oil, spring onions, soy sauce, pepper, salted egg, fried onions and a whole host of other ingredients for you to customise the porridge as you wanted to.
Chicken Porridge is also a great dish to eat as comfort food and as a substitute for chicken soup when one is not feeling well. The rice in the porridge means you have a far more substantial meal while it is still easy to eat and provides all the necessary nutrition to fight off the fever and chills body!
The Lovely Wife has often made porridge but recently realised that the secret to a good porridge is in making a good stock first. The best thing to make a good stock is the carcass if a chicken or chicken bones. For the vegetarians out there, just make a good stock out of vegetables.
The secret to a good porridge is also not to make it too salty as it is best served with Soy Sauce - with the 'eater' adding in as much soy sauce as they like. Soy sauce has a slightly different taste to salt and adds some colour to the bland looking porridge. Garnish the porridge with spring onions and coriander for some extra colour too.
carcass of 1 chicken
2 cups rice
3 inches ginger
6 cloves garlic
200g chicken fillet - cut into strips
2 tsp sesame oil
Put chicken carcass in a large saucepan and fill with water till carcass is covered. Bruise 3 cloves of garlic and add half the ginger strips. Reserve the rest. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes to make nice stock. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the carcass and set the stock aside. In a separate saucepan heat a little oil and sautee the remaining garlic and ginger - cut into strips. Add in the rice and mix well. Add the stock into the saucepan and cook until rice becomes a porridge. Add in the chicken strips and continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked. Add in more water if needed. Stir in sesame oil before serving. Garnish with onion leaves and coriander.Serve with Soy sauce and Pepper.
The thing I really love about a porridge is that you can use any type of meat with it or even just vegetables. Some people even eat a spicy version of porridge where they would add in some chicken curry or beef curry into the porridge. With porridge, the possibilites are practically endless.
Home made Porridge is also something that many Asian families make to feed their infants - once they start eating solids. The porridge will be cooked with carrot, potatoes and other vegetables and then mashed together to make it even finer and easy to eat for baby!
Porridge - a yummy, timeless food that feeds everyone, young or old!