“Simplicity is the essence of happiness” – Cedric Bledsoe.
It’s almost 6 months since WHO declared the Covid19 outbreak to be a global pandemic. I think everyone has been through lockdown of some shape or form and is familiar with social distancing and the use of masks. 2020 started off with a bang, with raging wildfires in Australia and multiple natural and manmade disasters. In this chaotic year, I sense such a need to have an emotional anchor as we roller coaster our way through fear, loneliness, anger and isolation. In one year, we discovered that we lost our freedom of movement and all that means; we see it playing out in different arenas – people who refuse to wear face masks because they feel robbed of their constitutional rights, or even our individual sense of loss of travel and leisure opportunities.
Yet this is a year of personal growth – realising that in isolation there is such a human need for connection and having to reevaluate which relationships we will faithfully nurture, and discovering different ways of caring for others – a delivered meal, or flowers or a Zoom call. In Singapore, we’ve been in Phase 2 of reopening for a few weeks already, and the crowds are streaming back to the stores and restaurants. Last week I went on a staycation in Sentosa (a birthday gift to kid#2) and we did the touristy thing in Gardens by the Bay as well as the Marina and beaches in Sentosa. So I did enjoy venturing out and taking in the sights, but there is a part of me that craves for the quiet pottering around I got to enjoy during the circuit breaker lockdown. The complexity of the season has resulted in me preferring the simplicity of home and the simple meals that we can prepare easily. It stressed me out trying to figure which restaurant to go to during our staycation!
It’s an El Nina season so it poured today. So the cooler weather was calling for a comfort meal, and so I went back to the simplest of meals – cauliflower rice porridge. I have always loved Chinese porridge. It is the ultimate in simple comfort food and I swear there is nothing better than a warm belly full of porridge. Cauliflower is a great low carb substitute for rice because it lends a sweetness to the porridge and has only a tiny fraction of the carbs coming from rice. Today I made a Cantonese style porridge or “jook”. It is a little thicker than the Teochew version of porridge and I managed to thicken it with some xanthan gum. It is not as starchy as typical Cantonese porridge but it still has a thick gruel feel about it.
So I made this pork ball and century egg porridge for lunch and was immediately taken aback because kid#1 insisted on adding dark soy sauce to the porridge (I was surprised by he swore that was what he’d been doing for many years) and kid#2 extracted all the century egg from her bowl and dumped it into my bowl (I wasn’t complaining). And the grandparents added raw egg to their porridge too! I guess everybody has their own favourite way of eating porridge.
Pork Ball Cauliflower Porridge
- 1 1/2 heads of cauliflower
- 500g of pork mince
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1/2 beaten egg
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/2 tbsp sugar substitute
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 sprigs of spring onions, green parts chopped fine
- 2L water
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 century eggs, cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp fried shallots (optional, for garnishing)
- 2 tbsp spring onions (optional, for garnishing)
- In a medium bowl, mix the pork mincd, soy sauce, white pepper, sugar substitute, spring onions and pepper together. Roll into small 2 cm diameter balls and set aside.
- Cut the cauliflower into florets and use a food processor to chop into rice-sized pieces.
- Place the cauliflower and water together in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt and white pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Add the pork balls and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring the porridge well.
- With the porridge simmering, sprinkle 2 tsp of xanthan gum on the surface of the liquid, then quickly stir very well for a few minutes as the porridge thickens up.
- Turn off the heat and stir the century eggs into the porridge. Serve hot with some garnishing like fried shallots and spring onions.