Finals Comfort Food: Yam Rice

Hi Friends! It has been tough getting back on the blogger wagon. I’m totally blissed out still from Brazil and have been spending most of my free time catching up with friends as well as catching up with schoolwork and life stuff I missed… Here’s a post I wrote during finals but never finished:

It’s finals time, and I am oscillating between calm and wondering what in the world I am up to… :) A combination of being sick of on-campus food, not wanting to spend money, and perhaps a dream where I gained 10 lbs (eek!) convinced me it was time to cook again!

I have always loved yam rice, although to be honest, I can’t remember the last time my mother made it. This past summer my Aunt Nancy made some, and I was reminded how tasty this is. Yam rice really is an Asian pantry sort of meal — it’s flavored with the types of things that would be easy to find in a typical kitchen, with minimal need to go grocery shopping for special ingredients.

I made a lot of substitutions to my preferred version of the recipe (not the Rasa Malaysia recipe cited below) due to what I had on-hand. I used typical yams instead of the preferred taro, brown jasmine rice instead of glutinous (sticky) rice, Chinese sausage instead of ground pork. I ended up eyeballing the flavoring amounts, and omitted the scallions because I didn’t have any around. Of all those changes, the only one I would probably do even if I had all the right ingredients would be the addition of the Chinese sausage — savory and sweet, that stuff is one of my favorite flavors, and truly addictive!

The dried mushrooms after soaking in water

The dried shrimp (hei bi) and dried mushrooms are very typical of Chinese Malaysian cooking, and because they’re dried, last a long time in your pantry (if kept airtight). They also provide a lot of the authentic flavor in this dish, so I’d recommend keeping them in the recipe if you can!

Yam Rice
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia: Yam Rice

Serves about 6

For the rice

  • 3/4 lb. yam/taro (cut into small pieces)
  • 3 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 shallots (finely chopped) — omitted, but would be good to have
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried shrimp orĀ he bi (soaked in warm water, drained and roughly chopped)
  • 1 lb Chinese sausage
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked in warm water, drained and cut into thin slices)
  • Fried shallot crisps (for garnishing)
  • 1 scallion (cut into small rounds, for garnishing)

Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 dashes white pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions

  • Transfer the rice into your rice cooker and wash and rinse it with water like you are cooking regular steamed rice. Drain the water dry and set aside.
  • Heat up a wok and add cooking oil.
  • Stir-fry the shallots and garlic until aromatic.
  • Add sausage, waiting for the meat to render fat and begin to carmelize slightly. Add in mushrooms and dried shrimp and stir-fry together.
  • Add water into the wok and follow by the yam pieces. Add all seasonings and bring it to boil.
  • Add rice into the wok and do a few quick stirs.
  • Transfer everything into the rice cooker and cook it like you are cooking steamed rice. (I just covered the pan and cooked the rice on the stove like I normally do — I don’t use a rice cooker)
  • When the rice is cooked, use the rice scoop to stir the yam rice and loosen it up. Serve immediately with some fried shallot crisps and chopped scallions.
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