#1: Jook (Chinese Breakfast Rice Soup)
½ day | 20 min prep
SERVES 4 -6
- 1 cup calrose rice (or a premium Japanese-style rice such as Nishiki)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 10 cups chicken broth or turkey broth
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon finely minced cilantro (stems)
- 1 cup plain soymilk (optional)
- Wash the rice in a colander until the water runs clear; soak rice in water to cover for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a slow cooker set on HIGH.
- Drain, rinse, and drain the rice one last time.
- Add the rice to the hot oil and cook, stirring, until the rice is well coated with oil and smells toasty (about 5 minutes).
- Add in the stock all at once, then the salt and cilantro stems.
- Stir well, cover, turn cooker temperature to LOW, and cook 8-9 hours or overnight.
- To finish the jook, stir it well because the liquid and rice may have separated.
- If you want your jook thicker, turn the cooker on HIGH, cover and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours more, stirring occasionally.
- The soup will become thick and white; add the soy milk now, if desired, for an ultra-creamy consistency.
- To serve, set out small bowls of chopped cilantro leaves and minced green onion with a choice of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and hot sauce.
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#2: Lao breakfast noodle soup
A nutritious way to start the day – with carbohydrates for energy and greens for vitamins and minerals. This soup is served all over Laos and seems to be a national staple. Unfortunately for the vegetarian traveler, however, it usually contains chicken or pork (or some other animal). But not always. I found a cafe in Luang Prabang which had a vegetarian version on the menu and this is how they did it.
The same cafe, incidentally had fried Mekong riverweed on the menu, which is also vegetarian, and goes really well with a cold beer Lao. So, it’s maybe not for breakfast. Or maybe it is… it depends on what you had the night before. My Russian friend advises that beer is only for the morning or evening. But anyway, I’m not going to post a recipe for the fried riverweed as the process of turning it from unappetizing, smelly, hairy clumps into delicious, delicate, crispy sheets flavoured with toasted garlic is a long and complex one. And the main ingredient is also difficult to obtain unless you live near ther Mekong River.
So, we’ll stick with the breakfast soup recipe, which has all the qualities of a recipe suitable for publication in the cookbook: it’s easy, quick and the ingredients are widely available. And, hey, if you fancy a beer with it, go right ahead.
About 50g of dried noodles for each person
A couple of handfuls of fresh watercress
A couple of handfuls of beansprouts
A bunch of green coriander
A few spring onions
A couple of cloves of garlic
A lump of tofu
A little oil
Cook the noodles in plenty of salted water (that’s going to be your broth) until they are soft. While they are cooking, slice the garlic and chop the tofu into small cubes and fry together until the garlic begins to turn golden.
Take your soup bowls and half fill each with beansprouts, watercress and corriander (no need to chop them). divide the noodles and cooking water between the bowls and add the fried tofu and garlic. Sprinkle some chopped spring onion on top and serve.