Singaporean-Style Chicken Congee

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Congee, jook, bubur, porridge — whatever you call it, it’s the ultimate comfort food in a bowl, and an endlessly adaptable one at that. Topped with fried shallots, drizzled with sweet and salty soy sauce, served alongside Chinese doughnuts or a soft-boiled egg — the possibilities are endless.

Whenever I travel to Asia, I eat a lot of congee, especially for breakfast. One of my favorite ways to prepare congee is Singaporean-style. This version uses sticky rice as well as short-grain rice for a creamier version, but you can use simply regular short-grain rice for equally delicious results.

Singapore-style chicken congee

Ingredients:

1/2 cup short-grain rice
1/2 cup glutinous white rice
4 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons shredded ginger
2 teaspoons crisp-fried shallots
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Pepper

1. Wash both types of rice, drain, and place in a large saucepan. Add the water and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer with the saucepan partially covered for about 1 hour, until the rice is very thick and soft, stirring from time to time to keep the rice from sticking. (If the congee is looking too thick, add some water or stock to thin it out.)

2. When the rice has been cooking for 30 minutes, put the chicken in a bowl, sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, and ginger. Mix and set aside.

3. When the rice is porridge-like, add the chicken and its marinade. Stir well and simmer until the chicken is cooked, 7-10 minutes.

4. Transfer the porridge to serving bowls and top with the crisp-fried shallots, green onion, and pepper to taste. Serve accompanied with more soy sauce for adding to taste.

Bean Thread Noodles with Oyster Mushrooms and Cucumber

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I could eat noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and I wouldn’t get bored. But I’m trying to reduce the amount of grains in my diet lately, and this citrusy Southeast Asian-inspired salad is just the answer. It’s light, summery, and best of all, delicious.

Made from mung beans, bean thread noodles are gluten free, grain free, and have a slippery, wonderful mouthfeel similar to Korean sweet potato noodles. Use these in stir-fries, soups, salads — really, anything.

Bean thread nooles with oyster mushrooms and cucumber

Ingredients:

1 pound oyster mushrooms, cleaned
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bundles (about 3 ounces) bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes and drained
1 green onion, cut lengthwise into thin slices and then cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
Ground black pepper
4 tablespoons lime juice
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok over high heat and add the oyster mushrooms, stir-frying until cooked through and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, cut into bite-size pieces, and set aside in a large bowl.

2. Wipe out cooled wok and return to stove. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in the wok over high heat and add the garlic and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry, then add the salt and a small pinch of sugar and continue stir-frying until cooked through and slightly golden. Remove from heat and add chicken to the bowl with mushrooms.

3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, cut the soaked bean thread noodles into 5-inch lengths, and add to boiling water for 1 minute, until just cooked through. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain again. Place the noodles in the bowl with the mushrooms and chicken.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice, fish sauce, chili flakes, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently.

5. Add the green onions, cilantro, and cucumber to the salad and toss again. Arrange noodle salad on a platter and sprinkle lightly with ground pepper.

Green Curry with Rice Noodles and Mussels

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This coconut curry is the kind of dish that tastes too good to be healthy. Brimming with greens and herbs, this meal in a bowl comes together in about half an hour. I love everything about this dish: the vibrant green, the creamy coconut, the salty mussels. Oh, and rice noodles. Gimme all the noodles.

Green coconut curry with mussels

Ingredients:

1 serrano chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, bottom third only, tough outer layers removed, sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 cups cilantro leaves with tender stems
3 cups basil leaves, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed
8 ounces rice stick noodles
1/2 lime
Salt

1. Puree chile, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar, and 3 cups water in a blender until smooth. Transfer curry to a bowl. Reserve blender (no need to clean).

2. Puree coconut milk, cilantro, 3 cups basil, and 1/4 cup cold water in blender until smooth; set herb puree aside.

3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add mussels, cover, and cook until mussels open, about 7 minutes. Uncover and transfer opened mussels to a bowl, reserving cooking liquid in saucepan. If any mussels are still closed, cover and cook a few minutes longer, then add to bowl with others; discard any mussels that don’t open.

4. Add curry base to saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

5. In the meantime, cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.

6. Pour any accumulated mussel-cooking liquid into curry mixture and stir in herb puree; bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and add reserved mussels and squeeze in juice from lime. Taste and season with salt if needed. Serve warm in bowls and garnish with reserved basil leaves.

Rice Salad with Soppressata and Mozzarella

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This summery rice salad is practically begging to be taken to a picnic. Studded with cheese, olives, fennel, peas, and soppressata, it’s salty and savory and and makes a perfect side dish in warm weather. This dish has strong Italian vibes but I used basmati rice instead of the more typical arborio because hello, I’m Persian.

Rice salad with soppressata and mozzarella

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups basmati rice (10 ounces)

1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cups cubed mozzarella cheese (5 ounces)

4 ounces thinly sliced soppressata, 
sliced into 1/2-inch strips

1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, halved 

1 small fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored and very thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup parsley leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

salt
pepper

1. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the rice over moderate heat until al dente, about 15 minutes. Just before draining, add the peas and cook for 1 minute. Drain the rice and peas well and add to a large bowl. Drizzle the vinegar over the rice and peas, toss, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes.


2. Add the cheese, soppressata, olives, fennel, green onions and parsley to the rice and peas and toss. Drizzle with the olive oil and more vinegar, if desired. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve at room temperature.

Miso Banana Bread

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Welcome to your new favorite banana bread recipe. Contrary to what you might be thinking, no, you can’t taste the miso in the final product here. Instead, it’s like someone took banana bread and amped up the taste, resulting in this deeply flavorful, showstopping treat. I’ve adapted this recipe from the original in Food & Wine, and my version is on regular rotation this days in casa yogurtsoda.

Miso banana bread

Ingredients:

5 overripe bananas
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white miso
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. In a bowl, using 
a fork, mash 4 of the bananas until chunky. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the butter, sugar and miso at medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. At low speed, slowly add the buttermilk, then beat in 
the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas; the batter will look curdled. Add the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Scrape into the prepared pan.

3. Slice the remaining banana lengthwise and arrange the halves on top of the batter side by side, cut side up. Bake for 
1 hour and 20 minutes. Let the bread cool for 30 minutes before turning out to cool completely.