The Yomiuri ShimbunIn this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home.
Rice porridge with pork meatballs
Rice porridge — or okayu in Japanese — is made in the Thai style by mixing steamed rice and water in a blender before simmering it. Here, Thai cook Pensri Ajisawa shares a recipe for warm, easy-to-eat okayu with pork meatballs.
Thailand is in a tropical region. Air conditioners run in buildings and trains in the daytime even in winter in its capital, and sometimes that can cool people’s bodies too much, Ajisawa said. In some locations, such as in mountainous areas, it can get cold in the morning and at night.
“We sometimes eat okayu for breakfast to warm up our bodies,” she said.
The kind of okayu that Ajisawa introduces here is characterized by its thick, soothing texture, and cold rice can be used to make it. When blending the rice, water should be added gradually to grind the rice grains well.
When simmering the rice porridge, Ajisawa cautions against burning it. It should be cooked over medium heat first. When it reaches a rolling boil, she spoons small amounts of porridge into a mixture of pork, nam pla sauce and minced garlic and kneads it all together firmly so that the ingredients are blended well.
“The spoonfuls of porridge act to bind the ingredients together and also soften the texture of the meatballs,” she said.
The remaining porridge in the pot should be cooked over low heat. The pork mixture is rolled into bite-size balls, which are dropped into the pot.
“The meat’s savory flavor seeps into the porridge to season it just right,” she said.
Ajisawa turns up the heat slightly to simmer it further before serving it and garnishing it with ginger and fresh coriander.
Some grains of rice may remain, but the porridge can be sipped like a soup, accentuated with the aroma of nam pla and garlic from the meatballs. It is a comforting dish that warms the body and soothes the soul.
Recipe for rice porridge with pork meatballs
Ingredients (serves 2):
200 grams steamed rice
½ tsp chicken consomme stock
100 grams ground pork
½ tsp nam pla sauce
5 grams minced garlic
2 onsen tamago soft-boiled eggs
1 thin green onion, minced
10 grams ginger, julienned
Roughly chopped coriander to taste
1. Mix rice in blender, adding water in two to three parts. Pour the blended rice into a pot and cook over medium heat. Scoop 2 tablespoons of porridge from the simmering pot and set aside. Turn heat to low.
2. Combine ground pork, nam pla, garlic, ¼teaspoon salt, ¼teaspoon pepper and the porridge that was set aside into a bowl. Mix well.
3. Add chicken consomme, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼teaspoon sugar to porridge in pot. Make balls from pork mixture and drop into pot. Turn up heat a little and cook for about six minutes until meatballs are done, stirring occasionally.
4. Serve in a bowl and garnish with ginger, green onion, soft-boiled egg and coriander. Sprinkle with a pinch of white pepper.
Ginger tea is popular in Thailand and easy to make. Wash 80 grams of ginger well and cut it into thin slices with the peel still on. Bring 300cc of water to a boil and add the ginger. Simmer for about 5 minutes over medium heat, add 50 grams of sugar and boil for another couple of minutes. The sweetness and pungency of ginger warms the heart and body.
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