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April 2013

Congee (粥)

It has been ages since the last time we had congee at home. Adding to that, The weather has been hot and humid for months, which under any circumstances, I believe no one would want to eat hot congee in this kind of weather. As I recall, the last time we ate congee at home was in the full blast of an air condition room. I have been hoping for a rain and let the temperature cool down a bit so that we could have congee. And here came my luck. Last Sunday it rained so hard that I decided we had congee for breakfast.

According to Wikipedia, Congee or con jee is a type of rice porridge or gruel popular in many Asian countries. When eaten as plain rice congee, it is most often served with side dishes. When additional ingredients, such as meat, fish, and flavorings, are added whilst preparing the congee, it is most often served as a meal on its own, especially when one is ill. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its reparation. Despite its many variations, it is always a thick porridge or soup of rice which has usually disintegrated after prolonged cooking in water.

It was such a nice and cool weather that morning for a congee time. And so I made a quick and simple chicken congee with fritters (bought from market) as topping. I didn’t want to spent too much time in the kitchen preparing congee with any side dishes at all. Instead I wanted to eat and enjoy my cool early sunday morning while listening to the rain drops outside, with a cup of Chinese tea and morning papers. Life couldn’t be better at that moment.

All that is needed for chicken congee are rice and chicken. Wash any amount of rice you need and cook in the pot with water or chicken broth as you prefer. A cup of rice is enough for 2 to 3 people and 2 liter water. What I did with the chicken was cut it either slices or strips. Seasoned it with soy sauce and corn starch. Wait until the congee is cooked, add the chicken. Stir and mix the chicken in the congee and all is done. Sprinkle it with chopped spring onion and fritters when served. There may be add on side dishes as you prefer to go with your congee too. I like my congee plain and add soy sauce and white pepper as I eat. Happy Saturday!

*Congee can be cooked using rice cooker, slow cooker or over the stove method. For those who want to know how to cook congee over the stove method, please google it.

好久沒有煮粥了. 上星期日便煮了簡單的雞絲粥. 我相信您們都會煮的. 我就不多說了.

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Pancakes (這是像埃及或印度煎餅嗎?)

I don’t know why people in Indonesia call this an Egyptian or Indian pancake at all. My guess is because it is similar flatbread filled with ground meat found in those countries that got this popular name. This pancake is a common street food which can be found on streets of Jakarta. When I was studying in US, a friend taught me the fastest and easiest way to make this pancake. It suited well for many students there who did not know how to cook, did not have time and money and wanted to eat familiar food from home. And I have been making the pancake this way ever since. We do not have to make that dough, flip or roll it for that matter. Just get the burritos skins/wraps as the bread as easy as that.

We need ground meat, spring onions (lots of it and chopped), eggs (beaten), and wraps. The ground meat should be seasoned and cooked first. What I did was, stir fried the ground meat with garlic and seasoned it to taste with soy sauce, sugar and dark soy sauce.

Once the meat is cooked, we proceed to fry the pancake. Bit 2 eggs in a bowl, add chopped spring onion and meat (no need to add any seasoning because the meat is seasoned). Pre heat the frying pan with oil. Use bigger frying pan than the wrap to better flip the wraps later. Place a piece of wrap on the heated oil pan and pour the bitten eggs with everything in it on the wrap. Immediately put another piece of wrap on top of that eggs. Use the tip of your spatula to seal edges of the wraps. Once they are sealed and brown, flip it over and fry the other side of the wrap until both sides are brown. Similarly you may use egg roll skins, but they are not as full and crispy as the wrap. The last two pictures are the ones with egg roll skins. It was lumpy and tasted like meat omelette with a thin layer skin. Happy trying!

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Fruit Salad (沙拉水果 )

This fruit salad is commonly known as rujak in Indonesia or rojak in Singapore and Malaysia. It is a variety of cut/shredded tropical fruit mix together in palm sugar and peanut sauce. The sweet sauce can be mixed together with the fruit or just a dip. It is believed that using mortal to grind the palm sugar and peanut to make its sauce would be much tastier than using blender. For me personally, there isn’t any difference other than we can make the sauce as little as a plate serving. Unlike using blender, we have to put certain amount in it in order to make the blender spins.

There were not many tropical fruit choices for this rujak available here. So I just bought whatever could be found in the market. Here are what I found: turnip, cucumber, pineapple, mango and green apple. Please don’t worry if the fruit is sour because we will mix it with that sugary sauce. For the sauce/dip: palm sugar, peanut, tamarind water and a bit of salt.

Use the mortal to grind palm sugar, peanut (peanut should be roasted first), a bit of salt and a few table-spoon of tamarind water. For those who like it hot may add chilly in it. Grind them until it becomes thick. Cut the fruit in pieces, place them on the sauce, mix and cover all well with the sauce. A little tip here: to make the fruit less sour once you eat them make sure you cut the most sour fruit first and mix with that sugary sauce. Because the last fruit cut will get less sauce.

Enjoy and Happy Saturday!

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