When my old friend Lucy visited me from Vancouver via Hong Kong recently, we ate out a lot and while we ate, we talked about food.
We share a love of zhu 粥，a rice porridge made by simmering grains of rice with a lot of water for a very long time to break down the grains. It’s the first food that many Chinese babies start life with (yes, in lieu of milk when there is none for whatever reason) or given to eat as they are weaned. It was the everyday breakfast when I was growing up like cereal may be yours. It is also my first choice of comfort food, especially during an illness.
The long slow process is one of the reasons I don’t make it often but Lucy taught me a terrific shortcut: wash the rice and drain it, freeze it till solid then cook it as usual except with a lot less water in a lot less time (about 15 minutes)! I imagine the method can be used for cooking any grain or pulses.
The porridge can be made more substantial by adding poultry, meat, seafood, vegetables and even nuts.
Preserving eggs in brine is an age old practice but I recently learnt another short cut: rolling eggs in liquor then salt and wrap them in plastic film. Alternately put them in a zip lock bag. The result is not the same as the old way; the yolk came out pale and creamy but I enjoyed it. This was after one month rather than the 49 days I used to leave them in a flavoured brine. Maybe they will improve with time. The only downside I see is the use of plastic; I will probably revert back to my old glass jar which is occupied by fruit mud at the moment.