Saturday, January 28, 2012

Savory Breakfast Oatmeal

One of the lovely things about living alone is getting to eat whatever I like.  And what I like recently is a savory oatmeal for breakfast, inspired by Chinese congee (rice porridge).  When I was growing up, my mom would make Chinese congee for breakfast or lunch, maybe with bits of sweet potatoes in it and we would eat it with various pickles and sardines and soft salty peanuts.  These days I much prefer the flavor and texture of whole grains so have approximated this version of congee, which is easy to throw together on a weekday morning, assuming you have a batch of steelcut oatmeal already made in the fridge.  I like to break my egg yolk midway through and mix it up with everything.  Yum.

Steelcut Oatmeal
My preferred method now is to cook up small batches in the slow cooker.  I have a tiny one that I got from amazon years ago for something like $15 and it's great for this task.  Usually I set it on the 'keep warm' setting and leave it for 10? hours.  If I can get to it in less than 7 hours, I set it to 'low'.  I really hate mushy oatmeal though which is why I prefer the gentler method, which gives me greater room for error.

1.5 cup water
1/2 cup steelcut oatmeal

This is enough for two breakfasts for me.  I microwave a serving to warm up and it is often a bit too thick for me so I also add some hot water.  Now I'm really curious about adding some sweet potatoes to this...

Egg Topping
Until two weeks ago, I was certain that one needed a nonstick pan to cook eggs properly.  Since my only nonstick pan finally died, I finally tried using my stainless steel one recently and was amazed.  Absolutely no sticking.  I think the trick is to get the pan hot enough before putting in your egg and to add some butter.  Since I always added butter to my eggs for flavor, even with the non-stick, this is not a problem.

Heat pan for a little while and add a small nubbin of butter.  Use spatula to spread it around the bottom and watch the color.  If making scrambled eggs, mix the egg with a little salt and pepper in a bowl first.  Otherwise, when the color of the butter starts to brown a little, add your egg.  I let the white part mostly set and then add two swirls of soy sauce around.  If too much evaporates you can add a bit of water.  It's important to have some sauce.  Then I flip one side of the white onto the yolk and slip the whole egg onto my bowl of already-warmed-up oatmeal.  Add a sprinkling of chopped scallions.

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