Lately as the days are getting colder I’ve been craving something warm and fulfilling to eat when I wake up. I’ve rediscovered congee (a savoury rice porridge) and it has been doing the trick. It’s easy to make, you can go through endless variations and it’s one of those things that you can eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
My recipe is based on Chowhound’s recipe for chicken and ginger congee which I adapted slightly. You can make congee with pork, beef and seafood, but I prefer to make it with chicken.
The ingredients are for a big pan, let’s say around a week’s worth of congee breakfast bowls. I make mine on Sunday and only need to reheat a bit for breakfast every day.
6 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
4 boneless chicken thighs, skin removed and trimmed of excess fat. sliced in big chunks (optional)
1 cup long-grain white rice or risotto rice
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, skin on and sliced into 4 pieces
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more as needed
Pinch freshly ground white pepper, plus more as needed
3 stalks of pak choi, chopped
3 wood ear mushroom, soaked in boiling hot water beforehand and thinly sliced
Coarsely chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Thinly sliced spring onions, for garnish
Place everything except the pak choi, mushroom, parsley and spring onions in a big pan with a heavy bottom at medium heat. When it starts boiling place the lid on it and turn the heat low. Let it simmer for 1hr-1.5hr until it resembles a porridge. When it’s done, turn off the heat and add the pak choi and wood ear mushroom to the rice and stir. Add more salt if needed.
Scoop the porridge in a few bowls and garnish with parsley and spring onions. Serve with chilli oil or my spicy kecap manis (shameless self promotion).
I ate banana cake for the very first time in India, 8 years ago. My friend Nathalie and I were travelling through India for a month and we started and ended our travels in Delhi. We stayed in a gorgeous guesthouse where men ruled the kitchen. They made fragrant curries, freshly baked parathas and made wonderful banana bread every day. That’s where I discovered the amazingness that is banana cake and it’s been a love affair ever since. There’s nothing like baking a banana cake when it’s cold and windy outside in London.
Over the years I’ve experimented with various recipes for banana cake but I kept going back to the BBC’s recipe for a brilliant banana loaf. I’ve made that recipe my own. In the past I’ve added chocolate, cinnamon, sweetened with sugar or agave syrup, and sour milk. Sprinkled brown sugar or cinnamon on top, dusted it with icing sugar, you name it, I’ve tried it.
I’ve toasted it and topped with peanut butter, or eaten it on it’s own as dessert or a snack. It’s always been very delicious, but this time I’ve made a banana cake that we simply cannot resist in this house. Initially because I had more bananas I baked a huge cake, meant to go to work with Peet on Monday for his colleagues. However by Saturday evening we knew that this was never going to happen, resistance was futile. Beaten by the banana cake of dreams.
In this recipe I used honey and date syrup and a bit of leftover condensed milk to sweeten the cake, because we didn’t have enough sugar in the house and we were both too lazy to go out. I used up every bit of sugary substitutes we had in the house. However you can use either honey or date syrup only to sweeten of course, just as long as it amounts to 420g of either (or a mix of) honey, date syrup or condensed milk. You can always taste the better to check whether it’s sweet enough.
70g date syrup
100g condensed milk
420gr self raising flour
3tsp baking powder
6 overripe bananas, mashed
pinch of cinnamon
Splash of vanilla essence
Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Butter a 38x30cm tin and line with baking parchment. Mix butter and honey/date syrup/condensed milk until it’s creamy. Add the eggs. Then add the flour, baking powder, bananas, cinnamon and vanilla essence. Pour in the tin and sprinkle a bit more cinnamon powder over the batter if you wish. Bake at 180 degrees for around 30-35 minutes. It’s ready when a skewer comes out clean.
Wait for it to cool off though I can never wait for it to cool off completely ( though maybe you should) because isn’t warm cake the best anyway?
A little fact about me: I am a sucker for noodles and spaghetti. Combine them with anything tasty and spicy and I’m in. So it’s no wonder that I’m currently having an intense love affair with gochujang noodles, combining my love for noodles with gochujang and chilli oil. We have been eating this dish around 3 times a week, have been for at least 6 months, which means that it’s a winner and in addition to it being very easy to make, it’s also slightly addictive. You’ve been warned.
500gr spaghetti or any type of thick round noodles
1 onion, sliced
500gr pork mince
2 fully loaded tbsp gochujang
0.5 tsp Sichuan pepper corns (whole or mashed)
1 tbsp or more Chinese chilli oil
spring onions, thinly sliced
Boil the spaghetti. Meanwhile heat oil in a pan and fry the onion. Add the mince and cook until brown. Add gochujang, pepper corns and chilli oil and quickly mix and stir fry. Add a splash of water and cook for a few more minutes. Pour the sauce into a few bowls, top with the spaghetti. Scatter the spring onions. Mix sauce with spaghetti and spring onions and enjoy one of the best meals of your life.
This is one of my favourite and one of the easiest and cheapest Surinamese recipes. For me this is comfort food and I like it to be very spicy. It’s this simple dish that I crave whenever I have been on holiday eating all kinds of other delicious things.
I usually buy my snake beans in Chinatown, but you can also find them in Asian shops in other parts of London e.g. Turnpike Lane, Brixton and Wood Green. I go to Chinatown at least once every two weeks and snake beans are always at the top of my shopping list. This vegetable is one of my favourites and used a lot in Surinamese cooking. There is a difference in taste and texture in the beans which are available here in London, and those available in Holland and Suriname. The UK beans are light green and a bit firm. They’re imported from Thailand and Malaysia. Surinamese snake beans are also exported to the Netherlands and they are a darker shade of green and softer in texture. I prefer Surinamese beans, but alas I will happily make do with the ones sold here.
I always have a bag of dried shrimp in my fridge. Also available in Asian supermarkets in the UK. They keep for long and they are often added to my sambal, nasi and bami goreng.
This recipe is for two people
50gr dried shrimp
A bunch of snake beans (they’re always sold by the bunch)
2 garlic cloves
1 Scotch bonnet (optional)
Soften the dried shrimp first by putting it in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes. Cut the snake beans into pieces of roughly a centimetre or two. Chop the onion and tomato, mince the garlic.
In a pan fry the onion first and then add the shrimp (excl water obviously). Stir fry for a bit before you add the tomato. After a minute it’s time to add the snake beans and scotch bonnet. Mix well with the shrimp, onion and tomato. Add a dash of water, bring to boil, put a lid on the pan and turn the heat lower. Cook for about ten minutes until the beans are softer. If they’re not soft enough then leave them a bit longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
In Suriname we serve this dish either with rice or as a filling for a warm baguette. Sambal or a fresh Scotch bonnet on the side are optional.
Filed under Cooking, recipes