Sunday, February 17, 2008

Green Eggs and Ham: Century Egg Lean Pork Jook

I remember when I first moved out of my parent's house, the first thing my mom asked me was if I wanted a rice cooker. I've compared notes with some of my friends and it seems that most Asian mothers feel that the rice cooker is the ultimate kitchen appliance, especially for their kids who don't know squat about cooking a decent meal. Of course, when I moved into the dorms, there was barely enough room for my printer. Since I learned how to make rice in the microwave, I told my mommy that I was doing fine without a rice cooker. It wasn't until I moved into an apartment and stole a small rice cooker from my parents pantry that I discovered how wrong I was to reject my mother's advice (yes, I bow my head in shame). I discovered that I could use it as a steamer and cook whole meals in it. I don't know how I could have lived so long without one of my own (though I also discovered that using the rice cooker for slow cooker recipes can be disasterous).
Today, I did my momma proud by making Century Egg and Lean Pork Porridge in the rice cooker. The flavor of the eggs are too overwhelming by itself, but the smooth consistency of the porridge mellows it out just perfectly. After a night of drinking, this hits the spot better than anything on the taco shop menu.

I like my porridge to have a "loose" soupy consistency, so I added boiling water to my bowl of porridge just before serving. Took me many trials and finally a call to my mommy helped me discover this secret: Don't add more water to the whole batch, the rice will just soak it all up and expand.

The "whites" of the preserved egg is a dark amber color, whilst the yolk is a greenish-gray (or grayish-green). I wonder if Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham were inspired by this traditional chinese dish. Hehehe. Here is the recipe for one of my all-time favorite breakfasts as a kid.

Century Egg Lean Pork Jook
1/3 cup uncooked rice
3 cups water
1/4 cup lean ground pork
2 century eggs, diced
boiling water or chicken broth (optional)
sesame oil (optional)
nuoc mam or salt to taste
white pepper (optional)

ginger, thinly sliced into matchsticks
minced scallions
yao ja gwa

Cook the rice and 3 cups of water in the rice cooker, leaving the lid propped up just a little. Let cook 15 minutes.
*You can also use a slow cooker, set on low.  The slow cooker will take longer to cook the rice.  Add 3 hours to cooking time if using a slow cooker.
Break up the ground pork and stir into the rice. Once rice is done cooking and pork is no longer pink, carefully fold the diced preserved eggs into the rice.  Scoop the porridge into a bowl, only filling the bowl up halfway. Add boiling water to the bowl of porridge until it has reached your desired consistency. Add fish sauce or salt to taste. Add a few drops of sesame oil and dashes of white pepper (black pepper is also fine, just doesn't look as pretty). Garnish with ginger and scallions. Serve with yao ja gwa.

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