Monday, October 28, 2013

Seafood and Brown Rice Porridge (modified jeonbokjuk)

I've been on a big Korean food kick lately. Well I always crave Korean food, but I mean I've been trying to cook more of it myself. I used to shy away from it because a lot of the dishes require ingredients you can only get at a Korean/Asian market, but this modified jeonbokjuk dish I made is great because it requires no special ingredients and yet it tastes yummy and comforting! This dish reminds me of the plain rice porridge my mom used to make all the time and it also reminds me of one of the best airport meals I ever had at the Incheon airport in Seoul.

Jeonbokjuk is traditionally made with short grain white rice and abalone. I love abalone! One of the best food experiences in my life was when I went to Jeju Island with my mom and we climbed over the slippery rocks, sat on wet upside-down buckets, and ate fresh abalone (with a side of kimchi of course) that was sold by the female divers (haenyo) there. So, so good. Unfortunately, it's not as easy to come by here and so I used a seafood mix from Trader Joe's that had squid, shrimp, and scallops. You can pick any kind of seafood that you like best. I also used brown rice because that's what I had handy (I'm slowly making my way through a giant bag of rice I bought forever ago) and I generally try to eat brown rice instead of white nowadays. The brown rice doesn't break down as easily as the white rice though so adjust soaking and cooking times as necessary.

Unfortunately the weather warmed up yesterday when I made this and I always run really hot the day after a long run so it wasn't an ideal type of day to eat this but I still loved spooning this wonderful Korean comfort food and foresee many cold winter days when I'll be making this again!

[12/9/13 update: Generally you're supposed to eat this day of and pretty soon after cooking it, but I've refrigerated it and eaten it the next day or two without problems. It congeals so you have to stir in some extra water when reheating and save the green onions and seaweed for any refrigerated amount and add it fresh to the reheated portions.]

Servings: 2-4 (4 if you're serving something else with it, but for me this is a 2 mealer)

1 cup shrimp/squid/scallops, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (use whatever seafood you prefer)
1 cup short grain brown rice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup carrots, chopped into small pieces
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
7 cups water
1/2 cup roasted seaweed, crumbled
Salt (and pepper (optional)) to taste

  • Wash 1 cup of brown rice and then soak it in cold water for at least two hours (I soaked it about 4). Drain well and set aside.
  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat and add 2 tbsps of sesame oil.
  • Add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 cup chopped seafood, 1/4 cup chopped carrot, and 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms to the pot and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add the 1 cup of brown rice to the pot and stir continuously for 3-6 minutes until the rice starts to look translucent.
  • Add 7 cups of water to the pot and stir everything together. Let the water come to a simmer and then cover the pot and decrease the heat to low.  
  • Cook rice for 30-45 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice doesn't stick and burn to the bottom. (I put my heat too low in the beginning and ended up cooking mine for 45 minutes).
  • Once the rice has broken down into a porridge-like texture, add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and approximately 1 tsp of salt. Taste and add another tbsps of soy sauce or more salt if desired (I used 2 tbsps of soy sauce). 
  • Serve hot and topped with crushed roasted seaweed and chopped green onions. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
When I opened it up the steam fogged up my camera lens! Look how pathetically sad my chub chub pugs look.
I like to put a lot of green onions and seaweed on mine! But I took a photo first with it looking nice and dainty because otherwise all you'd see in this photo would be a big ol pile of green onions and seaweed!
Can we all just take a second to stop and look at Sunny's sad pug slump in front of my fridge and Rosy's desperately pleading face?
Sunny wouldn't budge from that spot so when I had to open the fridge I had to nudge the door against her and slide her across. Only then did she jump up and then wedge herself partially inside the fridge, looking at her precious carrots.  Sigh.
I usually try to minimize my use of oil in my foods and often substitute with cooking sprays (Trader Joe's makes so many good ones!) but trust me and use the full 2 tbsps of sesame oil. Sesame oil is such a fragrant and flavorful oil and you can really taste it in this dish! See even the pugs can smell it!
This is the kind of dish that is good to make on a cold and dreary day when you need something to warm you from the inside and also something good to help someone who is recovering from an illness.
And I got all my ingredients from Trader Joe's, even the roasted seaweed (they have a sweet/salty snack version that I just used because I was too lazy to make a trip to the Korean market)! Oh, well the rice was originally from a Korean market, but you can get rice anywhere. Enjoy!  

Adapted from Maangchi.

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