Once in awhile I need a lazy day in the middle of the week when I don’t have to be anywhere at any time… like the day after we are home after being away on a long trip. The suitcases are still by the front door, unlocked with dirty laundry tucked away. The vacation responder on email is still on, so no one calls. We are still groggy from sleeping in, and it’s too much of an effort to leave the house to buy food. Besides, we are still in our pyjamas.
But the stomach still growls on lazy days, and so I make the simplest meal – porridge.
We had just come back from a holiday in Cha Am, Thailand where all I wanted for breakfast was seafood porridge that was so delicious because the seafood was so fresh. On our last day, the hotel kitchen didn’t serve porridge because their supply of seafood hadn’t arrived. So, I walked out and bought chuk – thick gruel with seafood that came with half-boiled eggs. It was way better than toast with eggs and sausages. So, I was kinda craving for seafood porridge.
I made mine with prawns, squid and fish. And I have to have the works – garlic oil, ginger and spring onion, plus a dash of sesame oil. My seafood was not fresh though – they had been in the freezer for awhile – and in porridge you could tell immediately. But it was still what I wanted to eat that morning.
And I know exactly how my daughter wanted her porridge because my aunt has reminded me enough times. It’s one of her favourite dishes, and my aunt makes it often for her. It has to be made only with fish, and there must not be any additional bits like spring onion or sliced ginger. And to make sure my daughter is not deprived, my aunt has recited the recipe to me many many times.
Soak the rice for half an hour. Drain, and add a tablespoon of oil and half a teaspoon of salt. Pour boiling water in the pot till it covers the rice and then some. Bring to a boil, and then bring to a slow simmer.
Meanwhile, fry a few slices of ginger and when fragrant, fry the fish slices lightly.
Remove and add the ginger and fish into the porridge three minutes or so before it’s ready.
Cook it according to the consistency you like for your porridge.
Note: It’s not necessary to fry the fish, but the porridge is much more aromatic when you do. I fry my fish, but not the other seafood. If you use prawns and squid, add them in five minutes before the porridge is ready.
I like my porridge with garlic oil, which you make by saute-ing chopped garlic in oil over slow fire.
My mother likes her porridge with cooked rice, and that’s even quicker to make. I just have to make my seafood porridge with fresh seafood next time, or go on another holiday in Cha Am.
But on a lazy rainy stay-in nap-all-afternoon day, seafood porridge made from whatever I have in the freezer is just fine.