When I was a kid, everytime I fell ill, I would have to eat porridge with salted eggs…so much so that I became sort of conditioned to it. Each time I had to eat porridge, I would feel quite unwell even though I was as fit as a fiddle.
It was not till much later that I got over it. During my dancing days at the Sibu Recreation Club (SRC), after the ball, we would adjourn to the upper floor of the Sibu wet market for teochew porridge – plain porridge with all the condiments such as salted and century eggs, salted vegetables, salted fish, fried kangkong and so on and I grew to enjoy porridge after that…without feeling unwell. In Kuching, after partying away at places like Jubilee Hall (now Dewan Masyarakat), we would go for porridge at the Open Air Market – the other section, not the one with the sio bee and what not.
Well, it so happened that the other day, my missus came home from a working trip to Limbang with a really terrible cough…and before we knew it, my daughter was sneezing and coughing away and pretty soon, I followed suit. That affected out appetites, so I decided to cook porridge instead of our regular meals…
I boiled some meat bones for the stock and used it to cook the rice porridge (with a two-inch piece of ginger, and pandan leaves as well for extra fragrance). When the porridge had started boiling, I added the meat balls that I had made and a tablespoon of chicken stock. Some people would add a bit of “tang chai” (some kind of preserved vegetables, light brown in colour) but my daughter does not like it, so I did not bother. There wasn’t any spring onions or Chinese celery in the fridge nor did I feel like chopping and frying some shallots, so I did not have those either. They would definitely add some extra flavour to the porridge.
There was some leftover that evening, so the next morning, I took it out of thefridge and put it in a bowl, added some sliced beef sausages and broke an egg over it and steamed it for a while. What you see in the photo is the end result.
Another version of porridge that I cook sometimes is the tuna porridge. Just cook some rice porridge, again with a two-inch chunk of ginger and some pandan leaves. Open a can of tuna flakes (in water) and dump the whole lot inside and stir regularly. Add a tablespoon of ikan bilis (anchovies) stock…and that’s it. Of course, if you want to add the tang chai, the spring onions and Chinese celery, the fried shallots, that’s all up to you! I cooked this once for my friend, Jimmy, from Bintulu and he loved it. When he went back to his hometown, Serian, he tried cooking it for his family and they liked it very much as well. They actually thought it was chicken porridge, believe it or not!
Perhaps you would like to give it a try too?