Friday, October 24, 2008

Too Hot? Too Cold? Just Nice!

People call it baby food. I remember eating my baby brothers' rice porridge cooked with grated carrots and anchovies, and enjoying it. I also remember making rice porridge for my daughters when they were starting to eat solids. I made it for my youngest son when he was starting to eat solids, except without the salt, spices and garnishes.

I have to say I love baby food, adulterized that is (which means we salt and spice it). My idea of a tempting breathtaking rice porridge is chicken rice porridge, with a smattering of shredded fried or cooked chicken hidden throughout the depths of theporridge, a tantalizingly glistening shrimp sitting atop the surface and a scattering of garnishes, but I have come to love this ground beef version too.

So, I present, my...

Malaysian Ground Beef Rice Porridge
Serves 6, with maybe second and third helpings...

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, minced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 whole star anise seed
3-4 whole cloves
1-2 whole cardamoms
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbs ground coriander
1/2 Tbs ground cumin
3 cups of long grain rice (not basmati rice)
10 cups water
1/4 cup oil
dashes of black pepper
spring onions - sliced for garnish
fried onions - optional
green chillies - sliced for garnish

1. Heat oil and saute the onion, garlic, anise seeds, cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon stick till fragrant
2. Add ground beef and stir for a few minutes. Add coriander and cumin.
3. Add uncooked rice and keep stirring till rice grains are coated with oil and glistening
4. Add water and bring to boil, then bring to simmer
5. Stir occasionally so rice won't stick at the bottom
6. Simmer it till rice absorbs the water and is overdone
7. If it looks dry add more water. It should look like porridge, and the rice grains should look exploded
8. Salt and pepper it to taste
9. Garnish with with sliced green chillies, spring onions, fried onions, and maybe add a fried egg sunny side up if you wish. Be adventurous.

Enjoy it especially on a frigid winter day!

Cook's Notes:

1. Stir it occasionally while it's simmering
2. You can take out the whole spices before serving it, in case someone bites on the cardamom or cloves and gets the fright of his/her life
3. It should be more on the watery side, so add more water if it looks like the rice had absorbed all the water
4. Use a big pot, even though it's only 3 cups of uncooked rice, because unlike normally cooked rice where the rice doubles in size, the rice for porridge has to absorb more water until the rice grains explode and they can't absorb anymore. 3 cups of rice will swell into a lot of porridge! Try it with 1 cup of rice for a start. For my family (family of 6) 3 cups is just nice.

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