This blog post is dedicated to my young friends who will be going abroad to study, especially to those going to the UK. They will, no doubt, miss local Singaporean home-cooked food.
They may be surprised to find themselves missing something as simple as rice. They may be even more surprised to find rice being cooked very differently from how it is usually cooked here, especially if they are used to cooking rice in an electric rice cooker.
I was surprised the first time I saw raw rice being fried in oil in a baking pan. When water was then added to it, I thought it was going to be boiled, but no, the baking pan went into the oven and the rice was cooked by baking. Well, you learn something new everyday! It was actually very tasty, but nothing like the traditional boiled or steamed white rice I grew up with.
Rice pudding as a dessert took some getting used to. My mind told me that rice is a staple food and is usually eaten with meat and vegetables. But then in Thailand there is sticky rice (or glutinous rice) which is served as a dessert with mangoes or durian, with coconut milk on top.
When I was in the Philippines, I was introduced to champorado, a sweet chocolate rice porridge (cooked with cocoa powder) and topped with crispy fried anchovies (or ikan bilis). My culture of rice was greatly enhanced.
This week I had a simple meal which I enjoyed very much, because it was quite plain and cooked with very little oil. Greasy food always leaves me feeling a bit unwell. It’s my body’s way of telling me what to avoid. The meal consisted of a salad with blackberries and peaches, pan-fried chicken fillet and risotto rice. I loved the risotto rice. I decided that I had to learn how to cook the risotto. Elena is the expert. She lived in Italy and is my idea of an expert in Italian cuisine, so I asked her. She explained that the technique is to add broth slowly to the rice and to keep stirring so that it becomes creamy.
The recipe is as follows:
- One cup of arborio rice (risotto rice)
- Two and a half cups of chicken broth
- One chopped onion
- 40 g of butter
- Wash the rice
- Saute the chopped onions in the butter until transparent
- Add the rice and continue to saute
- Add two ladleful of chicken stock and allow to simmer
- Stir the rice, allow the stock to evaporate
- Add more stock and continue stirring until the rice is cooked
- Keep stirring until the rice is soft and creamy and all the stock is absorbed
Elena said that you can also add a glass of wine to the rice when cooking. That brings cooking rice to a new level! I am not particularly fond of wine, but I like adding wine in my cooking and desserts. It’s the secret ingredient in many of my dishes and desserts.
By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 8 August 2021