This has been a cruelly hot summer. Particularly and most especially in the city. Steaming pavements, blazing sun, heat-headaches and the sticky lethargy that comes upon you when you feel like you are trapped in an oven. The slow roast…that’s what this summer has been. It is driving people bananas and electricity bills sky-high.
Which is why we have been escaping to the beach every chance we get. Lovely beaches aplenty are one of the many perks of living on a tropical archipelago, specifically one near the equatorial belt. Yes, the heat can be debilitating, and the monsoons can drive you mad. We don’t have four distinct seasons either, so I have never experienced a white Christmas, or a golden autumn.
But the beaches...ah, yes. No matter how hot it gets (and believe you me, it gets scorching, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot), having my toes in the sand, ice cold beer in my hand, or just floating on my back in the sea, letting the gentle waves rock me this way and that…this still makes me feel like I am the luckiest girl ever.
It does not, admittedly, make for the best environment for cooking. Fortunately, another perk of living in this particular tropical archipelago, is the presence of a rice cooker in ever home. Toss everything in, plug, power on, and scuttle back into a/c.
Rice Cooker Mushroom Rice
- Roughly 3 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 40 grams dried oyster mushrooms
- 120 grams Chinese sausage (about 3 pieces), sliced on the diagonal
- 300 grams brown rice
- 3 cups liquid (water or the mushroom liquid)
- 5-6 stalks green onions, sliced (white and light green parts only)
- Bring the water to a boil. Place dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl. When water comes to a boil, pour over the mushrooms. Set aside.
- Mix soy sauce, oyster sauce, mirin, sugar, and sesame oil is a small bowl and set aside.
- When the mushrooms have softened and the water has cooled down a bit (not completely cool but not quite boiling hot anymore), drain the mushrooms but make sure to save the liquid.
- Measure out into your rice cooker bowl the rice, 3 cups of the mushroom liquid, the mushrooms, the sausage, and the sauce mixture. Mix well. Cover the rice cooker and set to cook.
- When the rice is done, sprinkle in the green onions, fluff the rice, and cover once more on the “keep warm” setting for a further 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the rice from the cooker and serve in bowls.
I remember the first time I read that many consider the rice cooker a “single use” non-necessity. Single use?? For Filipinos, that “single use” is one of the most basic and necessary uses we have in our kitchen. For a culture that cooks a batch of rice almost once a day (sometimes more!) the rice cooker gets more work than many other “multiple use” appliances. That being said, we sometimes fail to look beyond this single, yet ever so important, use. You can use the rice cooker for many other things as well. You can make oatmeal and quinoa in it. I’ve even cooked pasta in it. And, like this dish, you can make many a one-pot meal.
I used the dried oyster mushrooms here from the giveaway I had a while back. I wanted to feature a recipe that used them so Sweet Tooth, my lucky winner, could get some ideas. These dried ones have a stronger and more intense taste than the fresh oyster mushrooms, but do need more liquid, and a longer cooking time, to cook properly. Soaking them, as I have done here, and then cooking them with the rice, really plumps them up and infuses them with all the flavors in the dish. They would also work very well is stews and braises.
If I am lucky enough to have some Chinese goose liver sausage on hand I would use that instead of regular Chinese sausage. I like to serve this with some sliced omelet on the side. You can also toss a nice handful of frozen peas in before cooking. C likes to have it generously laced with sriracha, which I also highly recommend.
We are, once again, off to the beach tomorrow! To escape the city heat but also to make the most of our last month of summer. We will be with my mom’s family, a crazy bunch that I love to bits. Little C, who has become quite the island girl, as is her birthright, has been asking us every morning this week for “beach” and “sand”. So I bid you good night and a happy weekend, whatever the weather may be like where you are!