If you’re feeling down or the weather is wretched or you just need a comforting hug, then a warm bowl of silky porridge is your answer. For many of us in Singapore, porridge is the essential cure-all for all types of sniffle-inducing ailments as most of us remember our mothers or grandmothers making a warm bowl of porridge or chicken soup to help ease the misery and more often than not, it worked wonders. Perhaps it was the porridge. I suspect it was all the love that went into the hours of boiling the porridge. All we need is love, right?
So, this recipe is just like your mummy’s porridge minus the hours of watching over a boiling pot as the slow-cooker does all the work for you. The slow-cooker has been my go-to kitchen equipment when I’m working long hours that day. I simply throw everything in, switch it on and leave home. And when I return in the evening, voilà! Dinner is ready and my entire home will smell divine. It is the perfect solution for busy people who want healthy, home-cooked meals. And no, I don’t have any links with TANGS department store. I just LOVE my over 10-year-old slow-cooker given to me by my mother. Look how old she looks.
So on a particular week when both of us were down with the cold, I made this porridge/congee/jook (Cantonese) /okayu (Japanese) out of desperation as I had no energy to make anything else. It was just what we needed. Simple and easy to swallow. I only had brown rice at home so I used it and the fish slices I had bought that day. If you don’t own a slow-cooker, this dish can be also be cooked in a heavy-based large pot. It needs to be cooked for a few hours so a heavy-based pot will allow it to cook without burning at the bottom. A dutch-oven would be perfect too.
Slow-cooked Brown Rice Fish Porridge
About 4-6 servings as a main dish
- 1 cup brown rice, rinsed until water is clear
- 6 – 10 cups water ( 6 cups for thick, 8 for thick but slightly runny, 10 for very runny)
- 1 inch ginger, smashed
- 1 fish stock cube
- Slices of firm white-flesh fish
- 2 eggs, beaten (optional)
Add washed brown rice with desired amount of water into slow-cooker. I used 8 cups. Add smashed ginger piece and fish stock cube. Turn on slow-cooker on ‘low’. Leave overnight for 6-8 hours.
After 6-8 hours, check if it’s the porridge consistency you prefer. Add more water if you prefer it more ‘liquid’. Add fish slices. Change slow-cooker setting to ‘high’. Fish slices should be cooked and your porridge should be done in 30 minutes. Fish out and discard the ginger piece. Check for seasoning. If more salt is required, add light soya sauce in spoonfuls. Gently stir in beaten eggs just before serving so as not to break up the fish slices. The eggs make the porridge tastier. Scoop into deep bowls. Add condiments. Serve.
Essential Porridge Condiments
- coriander leaves
- chinese celery leaves and stalk
- finely julienned ginger strips
- sliced spring onions/scallions
- sliced red chilli
- fried crispy shallots
- white pepper
- drizzle of toasted sesame oil
- drizzle of light soy sauce
- Cut pieces of you tiao (Chinese curlers)
The condiments are just as important as the cooked rice for a tasty porridge. Without condiments, the porridge will lack texture. Coriander, chinese celery, ginger, scallions, crispy shallots and sesame oil are a must. The others are optional. If you can get some freshly fried you tiao from the market, it’ll be perfect dipped into the porridge and eaten immediately.
You can make porridge with any type of meat or hardy vegetable. Popular ones in Singapore include the chicken, seafood, sweet potato, pumpkin and mushroom porridge. Try your hand at one as it requires very little effort. It’s a one-pot, slow-cooked comfort food.