Best thing I ate this week: Porridge with sliced fish and salted egg

PHOTO: AsiaOne

'Best thing I ate' is a series where we share the best things we have eaten around Singapore. Read more here.

What: Sliced fish porridge with salted egg ($5)
Where: Sin Heng Kee Porridge, #01-33 Junction Nine, 18 Yishun Avenue 9

Porridge is one of the unlikeliest foods I would have for a meal. It's usually too bland for my palate - I often end up turning the white dish grey-brown with pepper and soy sauce.

But the porridge at Sin Heng Kee needs no condiments. Okay, I eat mine with pepper and chilli padi but that's only for the fiery kick.

Each bowl of porridge here comes with a dash of sesame oil drizzled on top, and I feel that's enough for most people because the porridge is very flavourful.

It's so addictive I go for a weekly dose at the branch in my now-(in)famous estate of Yishun, at Junction Nine mall.

There are 30 preset combinations, but you can play around with the ingredients they have. There are side dishes such as youtiao (fried dough fritters) and abalone.

At my last visit, I ordered Sliced Fish Porridge ($4) with an addition of salted egg ($1).

The porridge was as delicious as ever, with generous portions of salted egg and fat chunks of fresh dory fish. I also liked the thick consistency, which I suspect is not the same for every flavour - the Signature Porridge and Seafood Porridge I had before were more watery, though the taste was not compromised.

For those who're afraid to go to Yishun, Sin Heng Kee has another outlet - its flagship - at Block 685, Hougang Street 61. It's also on Deliveroo!

12 tips to cooking perfect fluffy rice and smooth congee

  • For smooth and silky congee:
  • Freeze the rice: Put a bag of rice that has been rinsed (not soaked) into the freezer and leave it overnight. This helps to soften the rice and help reduce cooking time.

    The cold from the freezing process will help to break down the carbohydrates thus leaving you with a less starchy consistency.

  • Substitute white rice with brown rice: Soak brown rice in hot water for 20 mins before following the same freezing process.

    Unlike white rice, brown rice needs an additional step of soaking as it requires more time for it to break down and become softer.

    Add rolled oats: Oats are good for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. For every cup of rice, use ½ cup of rolled oats. Soak the oats in hot water first for approximately half an hour before cooking it together with the rice.

  • Oats are good for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
  • For every cup of rice, use ½ cup of rolled oats. Soak the oats in hot water first for approximately half an hour before cooking it together with the rice.
  • Enhance flavours with Chinese mushrooms and dried scallops:
  • Mushrooms contain natural amino acids. Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 20mins to seal in these natural nutrients before adding to cooked porridge mixture.

    Dried scallops contain sea salt, which helps to add flavour into the congee without needing extra salt. Grill the scallops in a pan till sea salt emerges on the scallop surface before adding to porridge.

  • Include kale: Kale is rich in anti-oxidant and contains vitamins E, D and K. It is also good for eyesight and helps to prevent age-related eye diseases like cataracts.

    Blanch kale in hot water to activate the folic acid in the vegetables. Wash it in cold water and then blend till liquid form. Add to porridge.

    This will give a gentle green colouring to your congee. You can also choose to microwave kale leaves for 2 mins (or longer if necessary) till it becomes crispy. Sprinkle it at the top of your porridge.

  • For fluffy Jasmine rice:
  • Soak rice in water: Soak the rice for 10 mins after rinsing. This helps to remove starch, making the rice less sticky and fluffier.

    This will also help to reduce the time needed to cook it.

  • Use warm/hot water: Add warm/hot water rather than room temperature water to your rice (with the ratio of 1 cup of water to 1 cup of rice) as it will help to decrease cooking time.

    Don't stir: Never stir your rice during the cooking process as it will make your rice gloppy.

  • Add pandan leaves: Wash and dry the pandan leaves. Knot them individually before placing it with your rice and water mixture.

    For every 1 cup of rice, use 1 pandan leaf. Pandan is a good source of folic acid and contains anti-oxidant properties.

  • Use coconut oil: Add 1tbsp of coconut oil for every cup of rice. Add more if you want your rice to be more fragrant. Coconut oil is a healthier substitute for coconut milk.

    The latter usually comes with a higher fat content and also contains lauric acid, which is not good for the heart. If you are using coconut oil (you can purchase them in organic or specialty stores), make sure you pick those that are free from lauric acid.

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