Friday, March 30, 2012


Sometimes all you want to do is spend a few hours reading, in the same room as someone else doing exactly the same thing. Each person content in the presence of the other.
And then both of you decide to go out and get some soup.
There are a few places I’ve mentioned already that have good soup.  Fun soup.
Two Vietnamese-Chinese places in C’town.
If it’s a nice day, why not?

On the other hand maybe you just want to stay indoors, relaxing in companionable privacy, not observing or being observed by the world.
Perfect time for jook.
Rice porridge.

Chicken and Abalone Rice Porridge.

One cup of rice.
One carrot, cut into three or four pieces.
One can of abalone.
Six chicken drumsticks.
Six dried scallops (conpoy).
Eight to ten cups water.
Pinches of ground white pepper.

Plus chopped cilantro, shredded ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Set the dried scallops to soak in a little water with a pinch of sugar added.
After rinsing the rice cook it in half the water, simmer the chicken pieces and carrot in another pot in the remaining water.  Once the rice is fully cooked, remove from heat. Same with the chicken.  Drain the chicken liquid into the rice and while this cools, pull the chicken flesh from the bones and set aside.
Dump the carrot chunks into the pot with the rice.

Traditionally the rice would be simmered for several hours with frequent stirring (to prevent scorching) till the grains start falling apart. But it saves a lot of time to simply put the rice and cooking liquids into the blender - which is why you should let it all cool down a bit first.
When the rice has been osterized, return it to the soup pot, and bring it back to boil.

Carefully pull the re-moistened scallops apart, and add them and their soaking liquid to the pot.
Mix a little soy sauce and sesame oil with the chicken. Do not add too much, just enough to aromatize.
Slice the abalone, and add some of the abalone liquid into the rice porridge if you wish.
Add the sliced abalone only a minute or two before serving, while the soup pot is still on the burner. Abalone toughens up if cooked too long, so remove the pot from the heat shortly thereafter. Adjust taste with white pepper.
Divvy up into bowls, add the chicken meat, shredded ginger, and cilantro on top.

[Dried scallops (gon bui 乾貝, gon yiu ju 乾瑤柱) are available in Chinatown. They look like amber-hued or honey-coloured disks.  Conpoy is not optional, as the dish will lack a certain distinction if it is left out.  You should buy high quality large conpoy which have a vibrant look and smell, and clean sharp edges. Abalone (bau yu 鮑魚) is seldom used fresh in Chinese cuisine, mostly dried or canned.  It likewise can be bought in C'town.  Abalone is considered healthy and easy to digest. Which it is, if not rubberized by prolonged cooking.]

The quantity above is enough for four servings, or two large bowls. It is fun to share this before returning to your books and again enjoying each other's quiet reassuring company.
Jook is superlative comfort food.
Always do enough for two.

It's been in a while since I made any.

Mostly I read by myself now.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

1 comment:

The back of the hill said...

For more food that seems to demand companionable dining, see this post:

Now go eat.

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