Years back, on my trip to Thailand, I was taking an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It was a long enough trip for them to include dinner and breakfast in the ticket price. It was an interesting experience without even mentioning the food; the sleeper accommodations featured two seats that transformed (through your own labour) into a bunk with retractable opaque screens and your neighbours placed literally 5-6 feet away behind their own screen, across the aisle. I’m not exactly a luxury traveler and I wasn’t expecting much, but I’ll admit it was a little disconcerting to know I was changing my underwear in such a vulnerable situation. Still more disconcerting was the train staff’s wake-up call tactic of sticking their heads into your compartment without knocking (or in this case, tapping on the fabric screen?), yelling “Good morning! Time for breakfast!” in Thai-accented English with a huge smile. I’m a morning person, but please.
I had selected the “rice porridge” from the breakfast menu the previous evening. I had no idea what that was, but the other choice was some kind of Western-style breakfast – and who wants that in Thailand? (Pay no attention to the fact that I insist one of the best pizzas I’ve ever ate was in Bangkok) This is basically what I got: a Thai chicken and rice soup. Rice porridge? Sure, let’s call it that. It’s a simple Thai breakfast – using leftover rice and meat with a simple stock. You can probably add other things as you see fit. Mushrooms, greens, whatever. Serve it with some fruit on the side, like the ubiquitous pineapple they fed me everywhere in Thailand (pineapple is not indigenous to Thailand, but they are now one of the top world producers of the fruit). It’s light, easy to make, and requires almost no work. That’s almost everything you want in a breakfast (the missing ingredient is, of course, bacon).
If you don’t have any decent Asian-style chicken stock, you can always take regular chicken stock (2-3 cups worth), and simmer it for 30 minutes with the following added: the trimmings from the green onion, 2 cloves of garlic, an inch of peeled and sliced ginger, some orange peel or lime zest, 1 star anise, and a handful of coriander stems/roots (or a tsp of coriander seeds).
- 2 cups chicken stock (you better use this one!)
- 1 cup cooked leftover rice
- 1 green onions
- 50 – 100g of leftover cooked chicken breast (optional)
What you will need: Medium-sized pot, ladle, cutting board and knife
Directions (2 servings):
- Heat the stock: pour your stock into the pot and heat it over medium-high heat until it starts to boil.
- While the stock is heating up, prepare your ingredients. Chop the top green part off the green onion (the white root end can go into the stock (see above). Chop the top part of the green onion into thin rings. Chop or shred the chicken into small bite-sized chunks (nothing bigger than an inch).
- Once the stock starts to boil, turn the heat down to low (1), and add the chicken pieces, and all of the leftover rice (doesn’t matter if it’s cold).
- Stir the rice to break it up – cold/dry rice can clump together. Let it simmer in the stock for 5 minutes to get the rice and chicken nice and hot.
- Add the chopped green onion and serve immediately.
A more commonly known use for leftover rice is obviously fried rice, but you can do this very easily too. It doesn’t make a great stand-alone breakfast, but combine it with some fruit, and you’ve got a good breakfast, Thai-style.
2 Servings w/ Chicken: