Asian Salmon-and-Rice Porridge for Your Cold
Last year, Will and I both felt a bit under-the-weather after Thanksgiving. That’s when I improvised a Chicken Spaetzle soup. This year, Will’s post-Thanksgiving cold has outlasted last week’s Kimchi Chigae (previous post) as well as the Smoked Turkey Spaetzle soup (pictured below)—modified from last year’s recipe. His almost-gone cold reasserted itself with a vengeance after last week’s business trip, and his voice was barely recognizable when I was talking to him during another trip this week.
So, on Wednesday, I was on a mission to find another soothing soup. “Asian Salmon-and-Rice Soup” from Food & Wine Quick from Scratch Soups & Salads Cookbook was my choice since I had most of the ingredients. I did stop by the store and get a small filet of salmon, but I had everything else ready and even was able to use leftover rice. There were a few things I did slightly differently from the printed recipe, so I will walk us through my version. (For 3 normal, for 2 over-sized servings that Will and I finished in one dinner.)
1. Cut up about ¾ lb of skinless salmon into large chunks, put the salmon pieces in a bowl, and then drizzle 1 T soy sauce and 1 T sesame oil over the salmon. Turn to coat all sides, and leave to marinate while you are cooking everything else.
2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, and dissolve about 1 heaping tablespoon of Glacé de Poulet Gold Classic Roasted Chicken Stock (which is a handy concentrated chicken broth-in-a-tub from a company called More Than Gourmet). Or, you can use 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water.
3. Once the broth is boiling, add 2 cups cooked rice, ¼ cup chopped cilantro stems, 1 T minced ginger, and ½ t salt. Bring back to a boil and then partly cover and let flavors meld together for about 10 minutes.
4. Add salmon and the soy-sesame juices from the bowl into the soup. Let the mixture come back to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let salmon poach for just 5 minutes. At this point, you may wish to add more salt or soy sauce to taste and then garnish with 2 T chopped scallions and 2 T chopped cilantro leaves.
I used leftover steamed rice which yields more starch and thus produces a thicker soup. If you want a clearer broth, you might want to boil—not steam—your rice separately and then throw away the starchy water that you cooked the rice in.
I actually prefer the thicker soup because it reminds me of a comforting rice porridge—similar to chicken congee—that my mother used to make when someone in the family was recovering from an illness. She would cook down rice with a prodigious amount of water such that it became very soft and the liquid very thick. Then the porridge was flavored with a bit of soy sauce seasoned with sesame oil and scallions.
The salmon in this soup made it a respectable meal I could serve at dinner, but I was perfectly content with the last soup ladle of the salmon-less thickened porridge that reminded me of that childhood comfort food.