Friday, April 15, 2011

New Favorite Concept


It's not a new idea, but it is a great idea. Basically, when you cook rice in your rice cooker, throwing in other things to cook with it adds flavor and is convenient. Some things might just be for convenience and adding a nice touch, like chunky cuts of sweet potato or yam with the rice. On the other end of the spectrum, you could make a fully fledged rice based dish, adding in a protein, mushrooms, whatever suits your fancy, and a soup base instead of water. And then there's everything in between. So what prompted me to do this?

Well, previously on Escapades, I talked about Bittman's customizable soups. I've been underwhelmed by the flavor, but I think the main this is just not adding enough salt. My bad. The last of the three Earthy Soups was a spicy black bean soup. When I added enough salt it was actually pretty good. [note to self: get "chili powder" so you don't have to use cayenne chili powder...cayenne seems kind-of sour to me] Of course, for me, just beans and vegetables isn't enough; I need carbs. With the first earthy soup, I just cooked the rice separately and added it into the soup afterward. Soupy rice reminded me of congee, which reminded me of the savory congee that Hong Kongese restaurants will make, which made me think of using the rice cooker with other things added in (which I'd previously seen in other home cooking dishes). So what I did with the spicy black bean soup was to strain the soup and set the beans and vegetables aside so I could use the bean soup to cook the rice. I added some salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary [brilliant!], pressed the cook button, and off the rice cooker went. All told, when I added enough salt and made my rosemary black bean rice to go with the beans and vegetables, it really turned into a nice--earthy dish. The enhanced rice cooker concept looks like fertile grounds for future experimentation!

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