I fucking love porridge. When I searched for porridge recipes and saw my results contaminated with recipes for oat porridges, I always had this judgey suspicion it was because white people dominate recipes on the internet, and white people don’t understand the delicious comfort of white rice.
It never crossed my mind that I in turn didn’t understand the delicious comforting potential of oat porridge until recently. Btw, I can’t even confidently distinguish rolled oats porridge from homecooked white rice porridge.
First of all, oat porridge comes out super smooth. Like a proper Cantonese-style porridge. Look at the consistency of that porridge — flat out smooooooth. The grains are all meltedddddd.
My oats porridge recipe is good for 1 portion, because I use a small 1-person rice cooker. Good thing too, if I cooked this in batches, I would eat them all.
This recipe is more an approach, a four-part system (base porridge, stock, toppings + seasoning) I use to produce many different oat porridges. You can easily adapt it.
Oats Porridge (1 portion)
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- ~3 cups or 600ml of water. Basically, 1:9 ratio of oats to water, doesn’t have to be exact.
- Stock ingredients of your choice (to flavour the porridge)
- Toppings (to eat with the porridge)
- Put oats, water, and stock ingredients in rice cooker.
- Cook as you usually would rice or porridge in the cooker. Hit the button, walk away.
- Oats cook faster than rice porridge, so you can scoop it out as long as it’s melted to the consistency you like, and everything is cooked.
I prefer to let it cook all the way, because I want more flavours from the stock ingredients in the porridge.
- Add toppings and seasoning
If you are using a small pot and the water level is close to the edge, occasionally let some steam out — or, when it gets to a rolling boil, I just take the lid off and let it reduce.
Tasty pumpkin oats porridge — I took it off the cooker 15 mins early, so it’s not as melted, but the mouthfeel was the same as smooth porridge
Stock ingredients (optional):
Stock ingredients are what I use to flavour the porridge, by cooking them alongside the rolled oats and water. I dice most items finely (except for the mushrooms) to help them cook faster.
My default stock: slices of dried shiitake mushrooms (I buy them pre-sliced), and 3 small dried oysters, diced.
Alternatives I have used:
- 1 TBSP organic white miso (yum)
- leftover roast chicken (yum)
- chicken bones
- dried scallops
- spinach (kinda turned brown on me, so I prefer to use as toppings now)
- pumpkin cubes (I love this, it melts into a golden porridge — make sure you cut them small)
- tom yam paste
- ikan bilis stock (powder)
- chicken soup stock (powder)
Basically, anything you can use to make soup, you can chuck in there to make porridge.
You can also use ingredients typically used in Cantonese porridges/congee, eg: pork ribs. I mostly use my default stock of mushrooms and oysters, and add on any leftovers or food I feel will go well with it. To be honest, if you get your stock flavours right, and enough water for the oats to melt into the right consistency, it doesn’t matter much what your toppings are. It’s already delicious.
These are toppings I have used, mostly based on convenience, whatever I like, and whatever is available.
I will usually dice the pickled lettuce more finely — I must have been feeling lazy
The difference between topping and stock ingredients is that toppings don’t hold up as well to long cooking periods. So chunky veg becomes stock ingredient (carrots, pumpkin), and leafy veg become toppings.
This is what I usually have (all diced):
- Leaves of green leafy veg — I tend to always have spinach leaves or rocket on hand, sometimes I just shred them by hand and drop into freshly cooked porridge
- A big handful of coriander
- Chinese pickled lettuce
- century egg + salted egg (1/4 each, refrigerate the rest)
Alternatives I have used:
- crumbled Tempeh fried with a lot of diced French beans
- roast chicken
- canned foods (braised peanuts)
- luncheon meat
- tuhau serunding
- fried button mushrooms
- thinly sliced ginger
Something like roast chicken can be used as either topping or stock ingredient (or both!), so you can choose. Maybe see which side has fewer ingredients, and use the chicken there.
I only season at the end. Dried oysters are kinda savoury, so I don’t usually need much. Taste before adding:
- White pepper
- Few drops of sesame oil
- Small dash of soy sauce
Calories: If you’re counting calories, take note that oats contain more calories than white rice. Past the calories though, oats are nutritionally very useful and great for keeping cholesterol levels healthy, which is why I started this.
Measurement: If you plan to eat oats regularly, get measuring spoons to help you scoop out the correct portion (1/2 cup and 1/3 cup will be the ones you use most frequently). It’s harder to gauge quantity of oats correctly compared to, say, shaking cereal out of a box.
Choice of oats:
i. Instant oats if you only have a kettle in your kitchen
ii. Quick-cook oats if you only have kettle and microwave in kitchen
iii. Rolled oats if you can actually cook stovetop or in rice cooker.
General rule of thumb is the more whole the oats, the more flavourful they are, so rolled oats > quick cook oats > instant oats.
Oats tastiness does not interfere with porridge tastiness. I know at this point you might be thinking of brown rice porridge, and how much you prefer white rice porridge. Fear not! Rolled oats porridge with good stock tastes like white rice porridge with good stock. I hope this very important point helps.
In all examples, the oats are plain oats. Don’t buy those instant oats drinks that come with sugar, chocolate, strawberries or whatever.
No kitchen: You can still make instant oats porridge. Instant oats + hot water gives you a base porridge. You can use miso (if you have a fridge) or stock powder (bonito, chicken, ikan bilis, mushroom etc) to flavour it.
Add pickled veg or tinned foods as toppings (I use pickled lettuce and tinned braised peanuts). Then season as needed.
If you grow parsley or buy green things in small amounts, you can add them to the porridge while it’s still very hot. Dice them ahead if possible.
You’ll have to estimate the amount of water needed as you pour. Keep in mind oats thicken as they cool.
No milk: Milk is unnecessary in all versions. The key is to use enough water so the oats can melt into the creamy consistency.
Dried goods: I use dried shiitake mushroom slices and dried seafood (oysters/scallops). You should ideally rinse before using. I leave the thin mushroom slices alone, but I dice the seafood into smaller chunks so it will cook and soften in a short period of time. You can also pre-soak the oats with the dried goods ahead of cooking, and then cook it in the same water when ready.
I use these because they are flavourful, are overall affordable, and last forever in the fridge/pantry, so it’s more convenient than keeping a supply of fresh ingredients. You should figure out your default easy-to-maintain combo too. Miso is a pretty good alternative.
Teochew: If anyone is gonna make Teochew style porridge with oats, please share the results.
Lastly, let me save you some time. There are no other recipes on this blog, I am not a food blogger, and I have no useful information on this blog until I finally get around to writing my tour guide post to my hometown, Ipoh.
Good luck with your porridge, and please let me know how it goes in the comments, or on Twitter if you make it (esp if you try different ingredients!) 🙂 @lainie