Experimenting with grain cooking

As a result of my creation of that rice and lentil dish a while back, I've been doing some more thinking and research, and this morning I made a rice and lentil porridge:

  • 50ml White Rice (I used Basmati)
  • 50ml Red Lentils
  • 400ml Water
  • 1 teaspoon powdered chicken stock (or 1 chicken stock cube)
  1. Place ingredients in saucepan.
  2. Heat to boiling point.
  3. Reduce heat to low, place lid on saucepan.
  4. Simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Serve.
  • Serves one adult - adjust servings to fit the amount of people being cooked for (double for two people, triple for three people, etc)
  • Powdered beef stock can be substituted for the chicken stock in the ingredients.
  • Powdered vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock in the ingredients, making it a truly vegetarian dish.
  • I measured the rice and lentils by using a shot glass of each.

What I ended up with was a nice, tasty, savoury porridge. The lentils had disintegrated while the rice was engorged with water. While it was different in taste and consistency to regular porridge (what Americans call "oatmeal") the same proportion of dry ingredients to liquid is used, namely 4 parts liquid for every dry ingredient. For Oatmeal it is generally 4 parts water to one part oats.

Of course I have added lentils to the mix, and lentils pretty much act the same way as a grain when cooking. Lentils, however, are high in protein and when added to rice provide the body with a complete set of proteins that are missing if a person eats only staple food.

As I pointed out, though, what has interested me is the proportions. In my last rice/lentil post I gave instructions for a 2:1 liquid:dry ingredient ratio, and this was great for creating a fluffy rice and lentil dish. Today's recipe, however, doubles the amount of liquid (and that's the only real difference), which means that it produced a porridge consistency. As I did more research I discovered gruel, which seems to have an even greater proportion of liquid. Congee, a tasty Chinese gruel, appears to have an 8:1 liquid:dry ingredient ratio. I'll try to make that at some point, probably with short grain rice.

What I'm also going to experiment with is the use of other grains. If I replace the rice/oats with millet, barley, sorghum, maize or wheat, will I end up with the same sort of result (though different in taste and consistency)? Moreover, will the liquid:dry ingredient proportions remain the same?

Let me just end here by saying that this sort of food is exceptionally cheap to buy and cook. It is high in complex carbohydrate and protein, low in fat, and high in fibre.

Liquid:Dry Ingredient ratio

Steamed = 2:1
Porridge = 4:1
Gruel (Congee) = 8:1


Ron said...

Wonderful Minimalist cooking instructions.
I could never cook Risotto.
What about the fried bread sticks to go with the congee

One Salient Oversight said...

Well it's very, very easy to cook. I mean, this is basic level, peasant level, dark ages survival stuff.

As for the fried bread sticks, I'll pass.

Ron said...

Once in Hong Kong I saw a KFC doing breakfast and they had congee with this fat saturated bread - looked ghastly. Like a Americans putting cream cheese on a bagel.

I am usually against extra kitchen gadgets like pasta and ice cream makers. But Chris bought a rice cooker and its wonderful. Stick the rice and water in it and turn on and it turns off when cooked and keeps on a warming cycle. I'd recommend - saves watching a pot and the cleaning if it sticks

One Salient Oversight said...

Back in the early years of my marriage (1993-1995) I learned how to cook the hard way - by making mistakes. We never purchased a rice cooker so it was up to Anna or me to create rice in a saucepan.

After a couple of years I managed to create perfect, fluffy rice using a saucepan. Thus the idea of buying a rice cooker will never be tempting to us!

After quite a few more years I began to experiment a bit more and discovered the exact right amount of water to use. So I decided to share it with the world.

Here's my recipe for perfect steamed rice using only a saucepan.