Because I do my best to eat nutritionally dense foods, I don’t eat much white rice nowadays. I make exceptions, though, like when I travel and because I love me some rice porridge. Virtually every Asian country has its rendition—Thailand has jok, the Philippines has arroz caldo, Vietnam has chào, China has congee—each one warm, mellow, and as comforting as any dish out there.
Back home, I like to re-create the pleasure using so-called cauliflower rice. I treat it just like the real thing, simmering it with stock, ginger, and garlic (I even puree a bit of it once it’s cooked to mimic the starchy, creamy quality of rice porridge) and topping it with slivered ginger and sliced scallion. Just before serving, I slide in eggs made in the Japanese onsen-style—carefully cooked so the whites are just barely set and the yolks are molten.
- Trim off about 1/4 inch of the dried-out bottom nub of the cauliflower and cut the rest into about 2-inch pieces. Working in batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it’s broken into rice-size pieces.
- Heat the avocado oil in a medium soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmery. Add the garlic, ginger, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cauliflower and stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a moderate simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is very tender (you’ll be able to crush a piece easily under a spoon), 10 to 15 minutes.
- Scoop out about half of the mixture and puree it in a blender until silky smooth. Return it to the pot and stir well. Turn off the heat and cover to keep the congee warm.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil in a small, heavy pot. Measure 1/2 cup of cold tap water and keep it nearby. Keep the eggs nearby, too. Once the water in the pot is at a boil, turn off the heat. Gradually add the tap water, about 2 tablespoons at a time and stirring between additions, until the water registers be- tween 190 and 195oF on a thermometer. Immediately (but carefully) use a slotted spoon to lower the eggs into the water, making sure none crack on the way down and prodding them to space them as far apart as possible. Cover the pot and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, pour off the water and fill the pot with enough cold tap water to cover the eggs. Keep them in the water in a warm place while you finish the dish.
- Heat the avocado oil in a medium skillet over high heat until shimmery. Add the shiitake slices and spread them out in a single layer. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the bottoms are golden and crisp to the touch, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle on the salt, then flip the shiitake slices and keep cooking until the slices are lightly crispy all the way through, about 2 minutes more.
- Ladle the congee into four bowls. One at a time, give the eggs a short, quick tap on the edge of the pot, so as to not break the yolks, then carefully crack them into the center of each bowl. Garnish with the crispy shiitakes, ginger, and scallion. Drizzle on the toasted chile oil and coconut aminos and serve right away.