As a child, I was blessed and didn’t get sick often but when I did, my mom always made me a hot bowl of soup or Korean porridge. The hot steamy broth often healed my sore throat or warmed my aching tummy. Mmm. Yesterday morning, when I woke up, I knew something was not right with my husband. He was radiating heat and sweating uncontrollably (time to wash the sheets). Not sure what more I could really do to help, I remembered my mom and decided to make my attempt at Korean vegetable rice porridge. Who knew so much work went into such a simple bowl?
There are essentially two ways to make the porridge – the quicker way using already cooked rice or the traditional way of using uncooked rice. I looked at our rice cooker with 2 day old brown rice and opted to go the traditional white uncooked rice route. A lot of patience goes into first placing the rice in water and waiting for each grain to expand and suck in the water, then into constantly stirring the uncooked rice over heat until the rice has expanded and started cooking and then of course the final stages of cooking of the rice with boiling water. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it, or it was for me when I saw that the warm grains were making my husband feel better (or so he pretended to).
There are many types of Korean rice porridge. Some are more seasoned and flavorful (spicy octopus, beef, oyster and the list goes on) which are often enjoyed for breakfast or a snack because it’s easily digested. But I chose to make a more simple vegetable porridge for the tummy-ache that will sooth an upset stomach. This will be a particularly hearty great meal for cold mornings – soon to be coming in Boston. Oh boy.
Korean Vegetable Rice Porridge - Ya chae Juk - 야채죽
Warm Korean rice porridge great for a healthy breakfast or for an easy digesting meal
Rice Porridge Main Ingredients
Soak uncooked rice in water for 1 hour.
Make the soup broth with dashima and radish in 5 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Optional: Add 3-4 gutted anchovies. I didn't use this to make the broth for a more cleaner refreshing broth but for a more savory and flavorful porridge, anchovy can be used .
Chop the onion, carrot, green squash and mushroom into very small pieces.
You want small pieces here for easy digestion.
Drain water from the rice. Add 1/2 a tablespoon of sesame oil to a saucepan and add all the uncooked rice to the saucepan and begin to cook over medium heat.
Quickly add one ladle spoonful (about 1/4 cup) of soup broth to the saucepan as well and continue to cook rice over medium heat. When the water has evaporated, add another spoonful (1/4 cup) of soup broth to the saucepan and continue to cook rice over medium heat. Repeat this step about 2 or 3 more times. As you continue to add broth while you cook the rice over heat, the rice grains will begin to expand.
Once this has been done a few times, add in 2 cups of the broth to the saucepan. Add the vegetables to the saucepan and boil. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Check and stir a few times so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom. As the water evaporates, you may need to add about 1/2-1 more cup of water while the rice grains continue to expand. Some of this will depend on how much water evaporates as well.
Add in about 1/2 tablespoon more of sesame oil and a pinch of salt to the pot.
Optional: Serve sesame seeds and dried seaweed on top of individual bowls. Add more sesame oil to taste.
This porridge is more of a clean taste; for more intense flavors, make a soy sauce based sauce on the side to be added to porridge to taste.