Some people like the same breakfast every day. Me, not so much. I've written about this tendency for at least 30 years – after my first trip to Asia, I remember being beyond excited to sample kao tom and jook made by people who grew up eating those breakfast stews – and, after some consideration, I realized I could stop thinking of myself as weird. Almost no one who isn’t forced to eats the same dinner every night; surely there’s nothing wrong with the varied breakfast.
This week’s was yet another twist on the oatmeal stew, created (if it isn’t already a staple somewhere in the world, which wouldn’t surprise me) because I found myself with a quart or so of white beans cooked with tomatoes until they resembled the Heinz classic.
I don’t know how the beans were cooked, exactly, but I know they weren’t made with Heinz because I found them in my freezer. And I don’t know what inspired me, other than that I was in the mood for oatmeal. The oats and beans combination, either naked sprinkled with a little chopped celery, scallion, cilantro, or all three, has warmed and filled me every morning for a week (except Friday, when I was still gorging on Thanksgiving leftovers), and I think it’s worth sharing.
This is what my pal Kerri and I, in the heyday of VB6, would politely call a bowl of crap. It’s rice and beans with oats instead of rice, and as such nothing special, but it’s vegan, healthy, filling and good-tasting. No doubt you can improve on it, and I’d like to hear about that. You’ll find that recipe below, along with one for jook (Chinese rice porridge) and a savory, spicy Indian version of scrambled eggs (called Akoori) for good measure. They’re tasty, different, and (in my book) no less breakfast-y than cereal or an omelet. Let me know what you think.
Start with tomato-y beans (assuming you don't already have some buried in your freezer, I've included a basic recipe), add some rolled oats, water, salt and pepper, and in 10 minutes (more or less) you've got a wonderful and totally surprising breakfast. (Of course, this would be no less satisfying as lunch or dinner.)
Jook is soupy rice (look at the water-to-rice proportions here), with anything from fish head to chopped scallions and soy sauce. Conceptually, this may not sound that great, but in fact it's creamy and comforting — think of savory horchata. When it was first served to me I thought it miraculous — of course, it had a few more ingredients — and it turns out to be even better when made at home, where you can cook the rice in stock rather than water. It makes for a wonderful breakfast, and is especially comforting as the weather gets colder. The version pictured above is topped with sliced snow peas, fermented black beans, and chile oil, but a combo of scallions and sesame oil is simpler and equally delicious.
People who eat breakfast in the States mostly do so in the most boring fashion possible. (Though don’t get me wrong: I like a fried egg as much as the next person.) But in other countries things are a bit more creative. This is a classis Parsi dish and a great one for those who (like me) are into really savory breakfasts. It's also made as street food, which is how I first had it—prepared at a cart and eaten from a paper plate standing up (and, in a hurry, in the back of a car). A fitting dish to eat while rushing out the door in the morning.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.