I recently had a medical procedure that required me to be on a restricted diet for several days—nothing with fiber: no fruit, nuts, vegetables, or whole grains; no beef, milk products, or vitamins with iron. The foods that remained included most of the things that my wife has been trying to get me to give up—white bread, white rice—and white meats—chicken, eggs, fish and pork. How do you make a soft, bland diet taste good?
I could make shifan (water rice), the Chinese cure-all, sick person’s food—rice that has been cooked in too much water until it has broken down into a mush. But that dish is rather boring—especially if you cannot add anything to spice it up. A typical Chinese breakfast might include shifan with a boiled egg, Sichuan pickles, peanuts, pickled radishes, and chili oil.
I thought about making a rice pudding, but milk was off my diet. I wondered if I would make a savory rice pudding without milk products. A few years ago I discovered Consome de Cameron—a shrimp broth made from ground dried shrimp—at my local Mexican market. Boiling the rice in this broth made for a very tasty shifan with little more that a pinch of black pepper. To turn this dish into a rice pudding, I decided to add some egg as a thickener—so it would not seem quite so much like a sick person’s soup. To add some texture—and to turn it into a solid meal—I also added some fresh shrimp.
Karl’s Shrimp Rice Pudding
3 cups water
1 Tbs. Consome de Cameron
4-5 large shrimp, unpeeled
1½ cups cooked white rice
Pinch black pepper
Note: If you do not have cooked rice on hand, steam some before starting.
1. Put the water in a pot and bring it to a boil.
2. Add the shrimp powder and shrimp to the pot.
3. Simmer the shrimp for 3-4 minutes until the shells have turned pink.
4. Remove the shrimp to a bowl.
Tip: When cool enough to handle, peel the shrimp and cut into bite sized pieces, reserve.
Note: Discard the shrimp shells.
5. Add the rice to the broth and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes.
Tip: Stir occasionally to make sure that the rice does not stick to the pot and scorch.
Note: Eventually the rice will swell with water and the grains will burst into bits. Rough handling releases more of the starch from the rice, thickening the liquid and making for a creamer rice pudding. For most dishes this would be a bad thing, here it is the point.
6. While the rice is cooking, put the eggs into a large measuring cup and beat them well.
Tip: You need enough room in the measuring cup to hold some of the hot rice as you “temper” the eggs.
7. Spoon some of the hot rice into the eggs to temper them.
Tip: You do not want your eggs to turn into scrambled eggs.
Note: I mix the eggs in a 2 cup measuring cup and then add a few tablespoons of hot rice at a time, mixing it in, before adding a few more for a total of about ¾ of a cup.
8. Stir the warmed egg mixture into the rice in the pot.
9. Continue cook, stirring roughly and constantly, for 8-10 more minutes, until thick and creamy.
10. Return the shrimp to the pot and add pepper to taste.
Tip: You may add salt if you wish, but the shrimp broth has plenty of salt already.
11. Serve warm.