a long way from kielbasa

[note: i experimented a bit and changed the recipe somewhat; the modified version is a little better, i think.]

it’s been a long a~* time since my last post.  so basically, this is gonna be a longish post filled with all kinds of bologna.  since bologna is a long way from being the homemade, artisanal, delicious kielbasa, you get this title.

boy, you know you’re in trouble when the title of the post is crazy to start with.  i recommend some delicious kielbasa to fortify your system so you can better deal with the craziness.  better?  good.

during my reprieve, i tried to perfect this:

alas, i never did manage to rip the teddy bear’s head off with the force.  the force was not strong.  😦  oh well.

also, during my vacation reprieve, i was under the weather a bit.  my asian friends dragged me out of the house & took me to a restaurant so i would have something nutritive to eat.  i think asian cultures are big on food cures, and that was the way my friends showed their concern–dragging me out to feed me.  i’ve no complaints.  my friends ordered chinese porridge for me so i could get over my cold faster.  i couldn’t say that i got over my cold quicker, but that porridge did seem to breath some life into my ailing body.  i asked my friends if they had the recipe for the porridge, and they gave me the home version; apparently it’s difficult to cook chinese porridge restaurant style.  try it if you like.  now before you begin, keep in mind that this is pretty time-consuming; you can’t cook this ron popeil style—no “set it and forget it” for this baby.  in fact, you kind of have to treat the dish like a baby.  you have been warned.

here are the things you’d need.  remember to read through the entire recipe before you begin, so you know what to expect.

0.5 cup of rice.  short-grain rice preferred; long grain rice tastes like s~* in this dish.
5 cups of chicken stock, preferably unsalted.  if you only have salted stock (like those canned ones), you can do half-half (stock and water) to control the saltiness.  set aside extra chicken stock (about 1-2 cups); you may need to add it later.
a big pinch of minced fresh young ginger; you can julienne the ginger also.  adjust the amount if you don’t like ginger that much.
salt, in case you need to adjust.
beef.  5-6 ounces should work; you can use more (or less) depending on how much you like beef.  cut the beef into thin strips and set it aside.  (too much beef destroys the dish though, in my opinion; you don’t want a pound of beef in the porridge.  that just tastes nasty.)
soy sauce, 0.5 teaspoon.  add more if you need to.
rice wine/sake, 1 teaspoon for the beef, 2 tablespoons for the porridge.  you can add more to the porridge if you want.
corn starch, roughly 0.5 teaspoon.

to start, combine beef, soy sauce, sake, and a little corn starch.  (you can add more corn starch to better coat the beef if it’s needed.  same thing with soy sauce.)  knead the mixture lightly until everything is completely mixed and all the beef pieces are thoroughly coated.  set it aside for now.

after thoroughly cleaning your hands, wash the rice to get rid of any dirt or dust; after the wash, drain the rice well to get rid of as much water as you can.  put the drained rice in a big pot, then add the chicken stock, sake, and ginger.  set the fire on high.  while the stock is cold, you can stir the content once every minute or so; however, you must keep your eyes on it so you can see if the rice is starting to cook.  as the stock heats up, start stirring continuously and turn the fire down to medium or medium-low depending on your stove; the mixture will start to thicken quite a bit.  keep stirring and don’t let the rice stick to the bottom, otherwise you’ll scorch the rice & end up with bitter porridge.  the idea is to cook the rice until it practically disintegrates.  check for saltiness & adjust to your liking.  also, if the porridge looks too thick to you, add some stock to thin it out.  (i look for the consistency of thick, creamy milk; you may like it thicker or thinner, up to you.)  too thin?  leave it cooking to reduce the mixture.  keep stirring.

the porridge is done when the rice becomes basically mush and disintegrates with just a slight pressure; this can take up to 15 minutes, but most likely it’ll be done in 10.  (the nice thing is that the longer you cook the porridge the better it tastes; just remember to stir constantly.)  when the porridge is ready, put the beef in and stir vigorously so the beef strips will separate completely.  cook for 2-3 minutes; check the beef’s tenderness as you stir.  when the beef reaches the doneness of your liking, serve and eat.  i like the beef tender so i don’t cook it very long; your preferences may vary.  the thing about this porridge is that you can add pretty much any kind of meat in it–chicken, pork, fish, seafood all work well.  you can even eat the porridge as-is without any meat, just sprinkle some diced green onions on top and you’re set.  if you do add fish though, i’d recommend a fish that’s not very strong in flavor; a fish like salmon will easily overwhelm the porridge’s flavor and it’d taste way too fishy.  a bland boneless white fish fillet (cut into large pieces) works great.

some time after i got over my cold, my friends and i cruised down to boudin bakery to grab a bite.  boudin is basically famous for their sourdough bread and clam chowder bread bowl, but they also make a MEAN sandwich.  i ordered the clam chowder and pesto roast beef sandwich to fill my belly.

look at that nice f~*ing crust on the bread; the sourdough was crunchy, chewy, sour, everything i want in sourdough bread.  then they added watercress, tomatoes, roast beef, and some kind of pesto mayonnaise to complete the little masterpiece.  that sandwich tasted like a thousand keebler elves dancing on your tongue, not that i’m into that sort of thing.  the clam chowder was yummy as well.

so there you have it.  i took care of some stuff, got a little sick, got better, ate some great food, and chilled with good company.  and now, back to pool.

8 comments on “a long way from kielbasa

  1. look at that nice f~*ing crust on the bread.

    I believe this is the first time I have seen an expletive used to describe bread crust.

  2. Nice to see ya back! Glad you’re feeling better! That porridge sounds similar to something my grandmother used to make way back in the day when we were sick…YUM. I’m gonna have to try and make since it’s been 5.6 gazillion years since I’ve had it.

    • thanks ms. redemption! have fun w the recipe. this is basically like a chicken soup, so it’s good for colds or when you’re feeling sick. just remember to keep stirring!

  3. Congee / porridge, is one of my comfort food when I am under the weather or want something light to eat. Great recipe. What’s also nice with porridge are those pickled vegetables that you find at the Chinese supermarkets. There are a lot of varieties to choose. The blandness of the porridge with the mixture of the saltiness of the vegetables gives it a good blend. Good to hear that you’re back and you’re feeling better.

    The more ginger you put in, the better it tastes!

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