Ozousui: Herb Filled Chicken and Rice Porridge
Last week my husband stayed home with a cold. I'm used to eating hastily crafted meals or leftovers from recipe testing and photo shoots during the weekdays because I'm busy editing photos or thinking up of new dishes to share with you. I loved the extra time we had together now that he was working from home but the meals were definitely a problem. But then I thought, what a great chance to revamp a dish my mother made for me countless times when I was sick: rice porridge (お雑炊). It would be the perfect pick-me-up for my sick husband. I wanted it to be simple on the stomach but warm, hearty and flavor packed. Ironically, this is now the third chicken and egg dish featured on this blog and two weeks in a row!
The key to this dish is the broth (as is true for any soup really). This dish requires time but very little work. Start off by massaging salt onto chicken wings and rinsing well. This process cleans out the pores and makes skimming a lot easier later on. In a large pot (I used a clay donabe here), add 1.5 quarts water, 2 scallions, and 1 knob of sliced ginger to the chicken wings. Bring up to a boil and simmer for at least 45 minutes to extract all of the flavor. You'll lose about 30% of the liquid, but that's okay. If you boil away too much, just add some water.
After simmering for 10 minutes or so, you'll start to see the scum rising to the top. Skim all of that carefully to get a nice clear broth.
While the broth is simmering, prepare the other ingredients. If you don't already have some cooked rice, you should make that now (instructions here). If you have day old rice or frozen cooked rice, that's perfect for this dish. Slice up the fresh shiitake mushrooms, slice the scallions and chop up the cilantro. I like to use the stem too because there's so much flavor in a cilantro stem and I like to use every edible part of a plant. Crack an egg into a bowl and whisk.
Once the broth is done, remove all the wings, ginger and scallion with a slotted spoon. Discard the ginger and scallion but reserve the wings. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat off the bone and shred for use in the rice porridge. After 45 minutes of simmering, the meat should be falling off the bone. I personally love the skin in my rice porridge because it's really packed with flavor but if you're not a fan of the texture, leave it out.
Bring the broth back up to a boil and season with salt and pepper (the chicken flavor will shine and sing when you've added the perfect amount of salt). Add the chicken meat, shiitake mushroom and rice and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Once the rice has softened in the broth, check for seasoning again as the starch may have thrown it off balance. Add the scallions and cilantro in and stir to mix.
Finally, pour in the whisked egg slowly in a circular motion to cover as much surface area and simmer for another couple of minutes. Top with fresh scallions and cilantro and enjoy!