Friday, April 04, 2014
Comfort food, it provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it. Wiki says many are flavorful. It doesn't solve problems but for that short moment while savoring its warmth, the heart feels fuzzy. Memories of being tucked away at our childhood dining table come flooding and we relish in this state of assurance that the worries of the world can wait.
For you it may be your mother's apple pie or a steaming bowl of chicken soup. For Anton Ego it is the humble ratatouille, albeit made just slightly fancy by a tiny chef with four legs. On a rainy afternoon, I would slap together butter and kaya on two pieces of Benggali white bread, toast the assembly till smoke comes puffing out of the grill and enjoy the sweet, savory crisp simplicity, perhaps with a cup of hot Milo.
Then there's always rice because we grew up with it. Sardines in tomato sauce cooked with browned onions, a pinch of curry powder, Sriracha and sambal with a bowl of steamed Japanese gohan makes Vijay happy. As for me, I can eat chicken rice every day, perhaps I eat too much of it. How do I say no to a piece of tenderly cooked thigh flavored with just some good soy, rice wine and sesame oil, just like a scene re-enacted from my parent's kitchen?
With this one pot solution crafted by Sherie, I made this way too often and am still not stopping. The chook and rice cooks at the same time together in one vessel, from which you can straight away serve, without fuss or hours slaving by the stove. I've made it for two, four and 15 people, using both the pot and rice cooker. This is one of those things brilliant, busy mothers come up with to save the entire world... okay, at the very least, mine.
What's your comfort food?
One Pot Chicken Rice
Adapted barely from Maameemoomoo's Chicken Rice: The Cheat's Way
- a handful of chopped garlic
- 6-8 shallots, sliced
- 12-15 slices ginger
- 5-6 pandan leaves, washed and knotted
- 2 cups long grain rice, rinsed and washed
- 3-4 tablespoons peanut oil
- sea salt to taste
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (if using rice cooker, follow the marked measurements)
- 60 grams Chinese sausages, steamed and sliced (optional)
- 4-5 chicken thighs or drumsticks, marinated with few pinches of salt, good light soy sauce, some oil and Shaoxing rice wine for at least 30 minutes
- few dashes of sesame oil (optional for sauce)
- 1-2 tablespoons good light soy sauce (optional for sauce)
- cilantro or spring onion (optional garnishes)
Heat up oil in the designated cooking pot or frying pan (if using rice cooker). Stir in chopped garlic, ginger slices and shallot. Sautee on medium high heat till fragrant and almost golden brown. Add in the rinsed rice. Mix well and coat it with the garlic, ginger and shallot oil.
Pour in chicken stock and rice wine. Mix briefly, then add in the salt and mix well. If using rice cooker, transfer the prepared rice to the cooker pot. Arrange the knotted pandan leaves and chicken pieces on top of the rice, making sure not to overlap any of the chicken. If using stove top, bring to a boil and cover. Using the lowest heat, let the rice cook for at least 15-20 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. If using rice cooker, set to cook till rice is done.
Meanwhile, mix your sauce. Once rice and chicken are cooked, let stand for 10-15 minutes covered. Serve with sauce and garnishes.
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Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
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