Category: Pasta/Rice

Jok with Chicken [aka Rice Porridge]

Ohhhh man. There is a new food cart downtown that serves all the jook and bao I could possibly want. Jook is rice porridge of the Chinese variety. Jok is rice porridge of the Thai variety. I had no idea until now. The more you know. Anyway, the cart is aptly named the Jook Joint, and you can add some pretty awesome proteins to it, like their 12-hour brisket. It has a little bit of a sweet sauce, but it’s a-ok with the fish sauce goodness that you find in a porridge like this. The soft boiled egg isn’t a bummer either. It’s stellar comfort food. There are a few other places in town that serve it, like Sen Yai, with all the squeaky pork or fish that you could possibly want. Making jok been on my to-do list for awhile. Gotta love checking something off the list.

It’s really easy to make, but requires a little bit of babysitting because you don’t want it to burn to the bottom of the pan. It makes a ton because the solution to keeping it from burning is adding more and more water. I kept adding more and more fish sauce because I didn’t want the flavor to get too diluted. Like most soups, it’s really customizable. I used chicken, but you often seen pork or seafood. There are often soft-boiled eggs, but I couldn’t be bothered. Because rice porridge like a more smooth risotto, you probably have an idea how filling this can be. It’s just like that. It tastes just as good day one as day three. We ate it and ate it and ate it again. The recipe I originally used no longer exists, apparently. Their website went down. This one from Rachel Cooks Thai is very familiar.

rice porridge

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jasmin rice
  • 10+ cups of water
  • 1 pound ground dark meat chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce + more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Green onions, soft-boiled eggs, diced chilies, or other hot sauce for serving

In a large pot, add the rice and 6 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil before turning down to a simmer. While the rice simmers, heat a skillet on medium high. Brown the chicken and add the garlic and ginger. Leave the chicken a little chunky to add texture to the rice when you add it. When it’s nearly cooked through, add a tablespoon of the fish and soy sauces. Add the fully cooked chicken and any remaining juices to the simmering rice.

Stir the rice occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add another cup anytime it starts to get too thick. At least another four cups is needed to achieve the typical creaminess. When the porridge is ready, stir in the remaining two tablespoons of the soy and fish sauces. Taste for more. I always love more fish sauce.

Blue Cheese Pasta with Spinach

We spent Valentine’s Day doing the things we normally do. Soccer game. Laundry. Eating. Food coma induced naps. This is the life.

We ate at Por Que No? Taqueria for tacos, red beers, chips and guac and followed it up with drinking chocolate and churros at 180. It sounds romantic, I know, but we do this kind of thing regularly. Why save it for one day? On a slightly unrelated note, this chocolate bar is the key to Andrew’s heart, in case you were wondering. And now I wish I hadn’t gone to their website. They had a small, perfectly good selection at WM Goods, but now I want ALL OF THEM. Sigh. Sometimes too much information is a bad thing. Trying a new-to-me pizza place tonight, Pizza Jerk, because pizza.

We made this pasta dish a few times now [and by we, I mean I made and we ate and he cleaned up], and it’s turning more and more into a vehicle for making steak this way. A little simple cast-iron action. It’s the only way to go when I’m too lazy to get outside on the grill, which has been a lot these days. This is a sneaky way to eat an entire 5oz container of spinach in one sitting and not realize it. It breaks down against heat of the pasta and you hardly taste it with the love-it-or-hate-it taste of blue cheese or gorgonzola. It’s so delightfully simple—cheese and pasta water. I’ve tried it with a few different pastas. It benefits from something with nooks and crannies. It captures that cheese sauce better. From there chopped nuts, fresh cracked pepper, or red chile flakes are yours to experiment. With the sliced steak, I found it didn’t need much else. The steak juices would get caught in those same pasta nooks. So good.

[sorry mom! blue cheese AND medium-heavy-on-the-rare steak]

Blue Cheese Pasta with Steak

Inspiration: The Splendid Table

Ingredients

  • 8oz pasta, trottole or other curly pasta
  • 4oz gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • 4-5oz container of baby spinach
  • grilled steak, chicken, or other protein for serving

Preparation

Bring your pot of salted pasta water to a boil. Make sure you use a pot that has a lid. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions minus 2-3 minutes. It should still be very dente so it can continue cooking with the sauce.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining the pot. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cheese, 1/4 of the pasta water, and the spinach. Stir to combine and cover. The heat will melt the cheese and wilt the spinach. Now is a good time to cook your protein.

After a few minutes stir the pasta and add more water as necessary. I end up using at least half, sometimes more. The spinach will stick together which is mildly irritating, but ultimately ok. Season with fresh cracked pepper before serving.

Grilled Mixed Paella

I actually used the paella pan!

I was kind of expecting it to sit in my pantry forever a lot longer than it did, but paella has been made. This was the pan we picked up in Boise at The Basque Market on the road trip. It successfully made paella. I’m pretty sure I bastardized it. When researching a good recipe, I came across so many conflicting ways to “correctly” make paella. It’s origins are from Valencia, Spain, and it’s cooked over open flame in the paella pan sometimes called a paellera. From there, there are several types of paellas, do’s, don’ts, and techniques. Two things I did that will probably get shamed is the use of chorizo and not using the correct rice. I didn’t want to buy a separate thing of bomba/Valencia rice. I have a huge bag of jasmine rice in the pantry. You see where I’m going with this. Yes, I used jasmine rice in a paella. I’m not sorry. It turned out just fine. I even got the coveted socarrat, which is the layer of toasted rice at the bottom. It’s a delicacy in Spanish tradition. I’m personally not a huge fan of burnt toasted rice, but all in the name of authenticity.

Of the various types of paellas you can make, I went with the mixed so there would be a little of everything — chicken, shrimp, chorizo, mussels. There is so much flavor going around in the mixed version. Had I added some green beans, it would have been a nod to the Valencia paella tradition, but I didn’t. I was running out of pan space as it was. It’s protein.com over here. Olympia Provisions makes a really great Chorizo Rioja by the way. What didn’t make it into the pan made it into my mouth. If there is one thing I’m really, really, really glad I did was buy some saffron. I die a little inside when I see how much saffron costs and how little you’re getting, but it makes the biggest difference. Have you smelled saffron on its own? It smells like paella. I can’t imagine paella without it. Get a few strands. Cherish them.

This all came together really easily. Get everything prepped in advance. The biggest hassle is bringing everything out with you to the grill. Make sure you have everything handy. There are a few steps, but if you have it all near you, it’ll go by quick. That grill gets really hot. Tongs are necessary to move the pan around to avoid hot spots. Changing the type of rice really didn’t make a difference from a timing or broth perspective. I wouldn’t use any sort of brown rice though.

Grilled Paella

I’ve only made the paella once, but the heat changed the color of the pan so it looks well used. I’m into it. Now to make more paella.

Inspiration: Chowhound

Ingredients

  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1lb boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 8oz cured chorizo, sliced thin
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 16 mussels
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley and lemon wedges for serving

Preparation

In a bowl, toss the shrimp in 1/2 of the paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside in the fridge.

Grate or peel and dice the tomatoes. This should yield about 3/4 cup of pulp.

Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.

Heat the grill on high. It should get to 450° – 550°. Hot. Add the paella pan to the grill and let it heat up for a few minutes. This will keep everything from sticking. Add the chorizo. Stir it only a couple of times. Let the fat render and the edges get crispy. Remove the chorizo to a paper towel lined plate. Add a tablespoon or two of the olive oil to the pan depending on how much fat was rendered. I needed both tablespoons.

Add the chicken in a single even layer. Sear each side for several minutes before moving the chicken to the bowl with the chorizo. Add the onions. Stir occasionally so they don’t burn. This may mean moving the pan or turning down the heat. Once browned, add the remaining paprika, garlic, and saffron threads. Stir for only 30 seconds before adding the tomato pulp. Use the juice to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. The color of the tomato will darken as it cooks, approximately three minutes. Add the rice and a teaspoon of salt. Stir to mix thoroughly and the rice is coated in tomato before adding the broth.

Arrange the chicken and chorizo amongst the rice. Bring everything to a simmer. Close the grill and only check on it every few minutes to rotate the pan so it doesn’t burn. DON’T STIR THE RICE. This will help ensure the toasted layer on the bottom. After about 10-12 minutes, the broth should be mostly absorbed. Arrange the shrimp and mussels hinge side down into the rice mixture.

Cook everything for another 10-12 minutes. The mussels should have opened and the rice should be tender. Remove the paella from the grill and cover it with foil. Let it rest for at least five minutes before serving. Toss any unopened mussels and sprinkle the finished product with parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

Thai Basil Pork

My first full weekend without work was equal parts good and bad. Saturday felt like Sunday the whole time, but it obviously wasn’t. We checked the box on several big pieces to the new patio out front. Bistro lights were hung. Outdoor furniture has been purchased. More plants have found homes. There are only a few things left to do. Regardless we spent a lot of time outside eating. It’s the new favorite place in the house. Get ready for a lot of food photos from out there. It’s going to happen. Sunday was spent watching a lot of football [soccer], studying, and a whole lot of my body fighting some sort of congestion crap. Not the perfect weekend, but I’ll take it.

This stir fry has become the new curry in this house. I make it all the time. When we don’t know what we want to eat? I make this. If I managed to have some time in the kitchen during busy season? I made this. The first meal back in the kitchen? This.

It started out as this Thai Basil Chicken recipe, and it’s morphed into what it’s become for me now. I don’t measure much anymore; it becomes an shake of this and a dash of that. The overall foundation is there. There is always a fried egg. There is always white rice. The bottle of fish sauce is always on the table. I add it to the stir fry and then again when it’s on my plate or in a bowl. My love of fish sauce is strong. I tried using a defrosted chicken breast once. Don’t do that. It was way too watery. I’ve tried ground chicken, which is good, but kind of bland ultimately. I ended up with ground pork because it’s cheap, already cut up into small pieces, and imparts a lot of flavor with it’s fattiness without being too greasy. Since New Seasons the fridge doesn’t have Thai chilies or Thai basil, it’s jalapeños or serranos and regular basil. It’s still very good, and still very worth it.

Inspiration: Eating Thai Food

Ingredients

  • 3/4lb ground pork
  • 2-4 small jalapeños or serranos, depending on your spice tolerance, sliced
  • 1-2 large handful of basil leaves
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
  • olive oil
  • fried eggs and rice for serving

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the garlic and jalapeños or serranos. Stir often. You don’t want that garlic to burn. Burned garlic sucks. Once it gets hot and fragrant, add the ground pork. While it browns, whisk together your sauce ingredients and sugar. Once the pork is cooked, if there is a lot of grease, drain it. It happens every two or three times for me. It totally depends on the pork. Add the pork back to the pan. There should be no need to turn the heat back on. Stir in the sauce and the basil. Stir until the is basil starts to wilt. Serve with rice and a fried egg.

Unstuffed Peppers

Sometimes you just want a one-pot meal. I’m pretty sure the crock-pot is the ultimate one-pot meal, but that requires planning and foresight that I just don’t have most of the time. I’ve been getting better. Expect some crock-pot meals to come, but until then there are these.

This is what happens when you unstuff a bell pepper. It’s practically what I do when I’ve ever made/eaten stuffed ones anyway. Sure they’re pretty all on your plate perched high and stuffed full of whatever goodness, but one cut and it’s on its side anyway. Then you have to cut up the pepper with each bite so you get enough pepper with every bite. Cooking it up this way ensures you’re increasing your fork to face time. Who doesn’t like making something a little easier every now and then?

Inspiration: Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, diced
  • 15oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup white rice, uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic for a minute or two. Add the ground beef. Break up into small pieces as it browns. Add the diced bell pepper and cook until soft—about 3-5 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes to the pan, including the juice. Stir in the rice, basil, oregano, some pepper, and the beef broth. Bring the whole mixture to a boil before turning down to a low simmer. Cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. The rice should be tender and most of the liquid absorbed. Stir in the tomato sauce and worcestershire sauce.

Taste for salt and more pepper before serving.