I recently bought the cookbook ’26 grains’, named after the popular restaurant in London. At 26 grains, it’s all about porridge. You may recognize this concept from the Scandinavian chain Grod and so it’s not a coincidence that owner and author Alex Hely-Hutchinson used to live in Copenhagen.
I am a huge porridge fan (in fact: there’s a full porridge chapter in my first book All-day breakfast and there are many more recipes in my latest All-day bowls, can’t help it!) and the popularity of this porridge is completely in line with current food trends. I therefore completely understand the success of 26 grains and how their own cookbook was only a matter of time.
In the book 26 grains, Alex shares over 100 recipes, all based on (pseudo)grains like oats, quinoa or spelt. Besides many sweet and savory porridges from their restaurant menu, you will find many new recipes that all use grains in very creative ways. The focus often lies on healthy dishes, but even more so on unique flavor combinations that are remarkably doable at the same time. Think: cacao porridge with blackberries, savory spelt and spinach waffles with chili beans, tomato-coconut rice with halloumi and avocado or seabass with eggplant and pearl barley.
I decided to start with a very unique recipe and chose the brown rice Indonesian chicken porridge, which Alex describes as a “traditional savory porridge from Indonesia, but with a texture similar to risotto” that “warms the insides”.
The original recipe uses short grain brown rice, which I couldn’t find, but my mixture of regular brown rice and risotto rice worked beautifully.
This dish turned out to be such an unexpected success. Creamy, intensely fragrant rice with chicken, crunchy spring onions, sweet soy sauce and a crunch of peanuts. I’m very sure I will be making this again and again.
for 4 persons
for the porridge:
– 1 1/3 cup (250 g) short grain brown rice, soaked in water for 1 hour, then drained (or use a mix of regular brown rice + risotto rice, like I did)
– 6 cups (1.5 liter) chicken stock
– 2 thumb-sized pieces of galangal (or 1 piece of ginger)
– 4 cloves
– 3 bay leaves
– pinch of sea salt
– 1 tbsp coconut oil
– pinch of white pepper
– 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
– 2 tbsp unsalted peanuts (I used 4 tbsp)
– olive oil, for frying
– 14 oz (400 g) cooked chicken, shredded (Alex uses half the amount, but I wanted a more substantial dinner)
– 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
– 1 small bird’s eye chili, thinly sliced (deseed if you prefer less heat)
– 2 large handfuls of spinach
– handful of cilantro leaves, picked and roughly chopped (I skipped this)
– kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or regular soy sauce
Place all the porridge ingredients, except the coconut oil and white pepper, in a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, topping up with a little water if it looks like it needs it.
While the porridge cooks, prepare the toppings. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously to stop them catching. Do the same with the peanuts to toast them too, giving them a lovely crunch and depth of flavor. Be careful not to burn them. Once the peanuts have cooled, lightly crush them with a mortar and pestle.
In the same pan, warm a little olive oil and add the shredded chicken to crisp up.
When the porridge is cooked, remove the bay leaves and galangal (or ginger), stir in the coconut oil and white pepper and taste and adjust the seasoning.
Pour into bowls and top with the spring onions, chili, spinach, chicken, peanuts, sesame seeds, coriander and kecap manis (or soy sauce) to serve.