Tuesday, September 4, 2012

[Recipe] Chinese Sausage Rice

I'm not one for following recipes - they all tend to end in diaster. (Which may explain why I failed in all the Chemistry lab classes in college.) So these are more like "cooking guides" where everything here is "approximate" and you can tweak it to your liking.

I first thought of this "recipe" when I came home after work one day and found the gas not working due to some street repair mishap. I didn't want to drive out again for food, and frozen pizza just wasn't the same in the microwave, so I made dinner from something I remembered reading once upon a time.

- white rice
- a package of Chinese sausage, defrosted
- water

You also need a rice cooker.

(To those who may not know what Chinese sausages are, they are different from Western type of sausages. They tend to be sweet instead of salty. For more information, check out an intro by Serious Eats.)

First, measure out and wash your rice as you normally would.

Then, take out your Chinese sausage, and cut them however you like. They would be easier to cut defrosted, even partially. The first time I made this dish, I cut them into diagonal slices; the second time, into bite-size chunks. It doesn't matter.

Next, put the cut-up sausage into the rice cooker with your pre-cooked rice. Yes, the idea is to cook them together.

Here is where it gets tricky: you need to adjust the amounts of water yourself depending on your rice cooker. The first time I made this, I added 1.5 times of water for everything, but it wasn't completely done so I had to add more water and cook it a second time. The second time I made this, I doubled the water in the beginning but the rice turned out mushy. I think this was because the slices from the first attempt were easier to cook than the chunks from the second attempt. So I havn't fully perfected the ratio yet for my rice cooker. In any case, it's always better to add less water in the beginning and add more as you go along - just be careful of the steam!

What happens is that the oil from the Chinese sausage will leech out into the water. When it's all finished cooking, mix everything, and you will get a very tasty blend of well-oiled rice with sausage. We used to cook the Chinese sausage by boiling it first then frying it, so this "recipe" makes it a lot easier, faster, and energy-efficient (in terms of energy used for cooking and for washing dishes).

The good thing about this rice cooker technique is that, while the meat and the carbs are cooking away, you can cook your vegetables. Obviously for the first time (when my gas was out), I couldn't do that. But the second time, I decided to go the lazy all the way and simply have steamed corn. I used a wok, filled it halfway with water, and placed a steamer basket* with corn. I left the cover on and let it boil for a good 10 minutes or so before checking up on it.

By the time everything was done cooking, I was able to finish reading half a magazine and was not at all tired out from cooking like I usually was. Yay!!

So, the first time I made this, H had a food-orgasm. He volunteered to bring the leftovers to work the next day (which never happens), ate them straightaway the next day (which also never happens), and texted me again how good they were (also which never happens). If you have a carnivore** in the family, this would be a great dish to try. If you also have kids who you can still get to help out with the cooking, this would be an easy dish to try too. Enjoy!

* I would recommend finding the steamer basket from a local Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall's, or other like stores. I got mine from one of those stores for less than $5.

** I would imagine that this one-rice-cooker-cooks-all technique can be used on veggie sausages as well, but I have not yet to try. If anyone tries it, I would like to know how it turns out!

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