Friday, October 15, 2010

On a Soft Food Diet

I have been nursing a post oral surgery toothache and boy, it's been tough!  Although I did not expect it to be easy, wisdom teeth (all four!) extraction is one hell of a pain.  The procedure is not bad at all, but the recovery is a big discomfort.  But I am not complaining too much of the pain,  it's really about not being able to eat.  I miss eating a big chunk of meat and things crunchy.  I have not have a substantial meal for days now, making me weak and less able to think clear.  Yesterday I got ambitious and tried to chew on dumplings and little chopped pieces of chicken, and the next day the pain got even worse.  So today I went back to eating soft foods and I am glad there is a recipe called congee to help me get by.  Back in the Philippines my Uncle Ben used to cook this kind, we called it arroz caldo.  He would take a chicken from the backyard, butcher it and make one big pot of arroz caldo for all of us neighbors to share.  The chicken & rice would be simmering for hours, and although the chicken pieces is very few compared to the rice in the dish somehow I remember it to be the best I have ever had.  I remember how comforting it smelled, as if any pain or problem just melted away as my Aunt poured it into our bowls.... and that is what was in my thoughts as I cooked my quick & easy version.  It is a far cry from my Uncle's arroz caldo but it is good enough.  Besides if you are this sick and uneasy, it is really hard to make it though the long process to make the real congee.

Rice Porridge (Congee)
Serves 2

  • Boil 5 cups of good chicken stock.  Get the best you can find, preferrably the organic free-range kind.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of grated ginger.  Freezing a fresh ginger then grating it makes it so much easier.  Plus this is a good way of saving the rest of a big piece of ginger.
  • Add 1 cup long grain rice and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat.
  • Cook covered for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours at a bare simmer until it has the consistency of an oatmeal, stirring once in a while and more often towards the end.
  • Add water or more chicken stock to thin if necessary.
  • Serve topped with 1 teaspoon of Asian Sesame Oil, chopped green onions, and shredded chicken and/or poached or soft boiled egg.  For a perfect soft boiled egg,  cook egg in water at a BARE simmer, just when there there are little bubbles in the water, for about 10-12 mins - the whites will set but very soft.  Even easier is to simply crack the egg on top of the porridge and let it cook while it is still steaming hot.

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