Rice porridge sounds like such a blah dish, but in all reality, it’s quite versatile. It can be made sweet, savory or both. My preference is both because who doesn’t love a combination of sweet and salty. To help you make the best rice porridge possible, I offer these tips, plus a recipe to get you started.
Allow ample cooking time.
A good rice porridge can’t be rushed. A small cup of rice grains requires plenty of cooking time to bloom in a pot that looks like it contains far too much liquid. The slow cooking time over low heat creates a creamy texture that is quite luxurious. The creaminess comes from the starch that slowly works its magic in any liquid you add.
Stir and stir some more.
The key to a silkier rice porridge is stirring often. Of course, if you prefer a finished dish that has more texture, stir less. However, my choice is to stir like a mad woman as the grains simmer away. This causes the rice to break down more, which I absolutely love.
Season your liquid.
Sure, you can use water alone to make the base of your rice porridge and season it later. However, I think you’d be missing out on an opportunity to impart subtle flavors that will result in a dish you’d be proud to eat for days because let’s be real, one pot of rice porridge can easily last a week between a couple of people. Season easily with minced garlic, herbs and broth. This way you can add shredded chicken, braised veggies and any other savory ingredients you want. On the sweeter side, stick with water and add a nub of ginger, cloves, a cinnamon stick and maybe a bit of star anise. A perfect start for a sweet porridge, this combination tastes great with a splash of coconut milk, mix of toasted nuts, seeds and sugar. Don’t forget to add a pinch of salt to keep it balanced. This is a wonderful meal for breakfast and can be enjoyed at the end of the day when all you want is something sweet.
Try different add-ins.
So I gave away many of my add-ins in the last section, but don’t worry, I have more. So many in fact, I’m just going to list them. First off, savory options: mushroom ragu infused with thyme, bacon jam, caramelized onions and smoked gouda, roasted garlic with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil, kimchi, brisket with an awesome barbecue sauce, Chinese five spice pork belly with scallions and fried shallots, barbacoa with pico de gallo, chorizo with dates and ricotta, pesto and a poached egg, crumbles of chicken apple sausage that’s been cooked until caramelized, peking duck, cajun shrimp, roasted butternut squash with sage and brown butter sauce and lastly, ginger and soy edamame sprinkled with sesame seeds.
For those of us wanting (and needing) something sweet, here are some ideas: stewed or macerated berries, toasted coconut and dark chocolate, jams and preserves, candied pecans with caramel sauce, bananas foster, homemade maple syrup, cinnamon honey butter, brown sugar with cinnamon and nuts, crushed gingersnap cookies, peanut butter and chocolate chips, manchego cheese and fig spread, crushed peanut brittle, spiced raisins and almonds, homemade apple pie filling, cocoa and espresso, fresh pineapples with a citrus glaze and mint and finally, chopped dates with almonds, coconut and cocoa.
Give it a splash.
Rice porridge is one of those dishes that you’ll need to revive each day you eat it because the dish absorbs liquid the longer it sits. A splash or two of water or broth when reheating is necessary to make your porridge return to a silky state. Other great options that will also elevate the flavors are nut milks, coconut milk or water and cream.
Switch your grains.
This method of cooking lends itself well to switching the grains. Try something a bit more wholesome, like brown rice. Or toast some quinoa to make it nutty, and then cook it like you would with rice.
- 2 qts water or broth
- 1 cup of rice, rinsed
- In a pot, bring your water or broth and rice to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low and continue simmering for up to 1½ hours, or until you achieve the consistency you prefer. Stir as often to as little as you’d like. The more you stir, the silkier the porridge will become.
- If necessary, add additional liquid to keep the porridge from becoming stiff.