JeJu

Rice is Nice

In food on 01/23/2009 at 10:09 pm

But it’s joy with soy! Ha, an old two line poem I still get a kick out of. When I want to be lazy, my rice cooker is there for me. So easy, just pour in the rice and add water up to where it says how many cups of rice you plopped in.  We have a cheap-o Oster rice cooker from Target. I grew up with a very basic National one, without bells and whistles that come with the new-fangled models. It does the job just fine.

My ultimate comfort food is rice, mixed with lard, raw egg and salt & pepper. Mother used to make that for us when she used to render her own lard. I haven’t tried it with store bought manteca. The other half prefers a pad of butter, with salt & pepper, which I discovered is called kateh in Persian cuisine, a standard way to address rice.

Here’s how I arrange my freezer. Once a month, we venture to a supermarket looking for cheap cuts of meat, even Pathmark carries natural free range chicken these days. If you have never compared normal mealy chicken with QQ organic chicken, do it. I didn’t believe until the other half insisted. I was converted. We buy packs of thighs and drumsticks mostly, more flavor. These days, we’ve taken to buying whole chickens so I can have the joy of hacking it to quarters with my massive cleaver. I think I was a butcher in a former life. We then pack them up in quart-sized plastic bags in meal portions, breast with offal and neck, drums with thighs. Father introduced us to a fantastic new product last summer, the Reynolds vacuum sealer, which sucks out all the air from the bag to keep it from getting freezer burn. Highly recommended product. The Ziploc version is far inferior.

One time, I wanted to conjure up a shortcut version of Hainanese chicken rice, the national dish of Singapore (Malaysians would beg to differ). Usually you boil chicken with ginger, garlic and scallions, then use the broth as cooking liquid for the rice, but I thought, wouldn’t be cool if I threw all the ingredients into the rice cooker and somehow it magically cooked without any fuss and muss? That’s exactly what I did and it’s pretty much what happened, with a little tweaking.

One thing I’ve learned from watching Daisy Cooks! is the Latin way to make rice is to pre-saute in lard before boiling it. It adds a nice chew to the final product, a sheen and fragrance not found in its simply steamed Chinese counterpart. But getting all the grains into the rice cooker pot is a little horrendous (if someone would only invent a stove to rice cooker pot insert, I’d be golden). I never really got the hang of cooking rice on the stove. The pot spurts a translucent goo and it takes too much baby-sitting.

Here’s my ultimate Rice Cooker Chicken Galore

Ingredients:

2 cups rice (add a little extra water to steam the meat through; drizzle some olive oil or put in chunks of lard; sprinkle with garlic, onion, ginger powders, or chop each ingredient fresh; also salt & pepper. mix gently)

2 drumsticks, 2 thighs (My secret ingredient for infusing more flavor into the chicken: coat thickly with BBQ sauce before placing into rice cooker, skin-side down. You could also marinate the chicken with the sauce in the bag overnight. It surprisingly won’t taste like BBQ chicken, just a nice mysterious umami)

thick soy sauce for dipping (if you don’t mind stinky breath, kick up the sauce with grated raw garlic cloves; My preferred brand is Kim Lan)

optional: cubes of cheese (Found a cotija in the ghetto supermarket today, and wondered, since I like yogurt on rice, would cheese work too? This is a salted, hard, aged cheese that melts like mozzarella. Something else equivalent would work. Scale back on salt if you use cheese)

Prep rice. Then nestle chicken pieces evenly on top. You could also substitute boneless chicken or breast meat with increased seasonings. Should be about 15 min cooking time. Wait 5 min after done, and add cubes of hard cheese like cotija. Let sit in rice cooker 5 min. Carefully portion out and serve. If you don’t use cheese, chop up some scallion and sprinkle on top.

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