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Rice Porridge with Minced Pork, Fried Garlic, and Green Onions  /  kao tome  Real Thai: Te Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking, Chapter 1: The Center, page 48

Rice Porridge with Minced Pork, Fried Garlic, and Green Onions / kao tome Real Thai: Te Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking, Chapter 1: The Center, page 48

Thai people love the traditional Chinese-style rice porridge known as jook, moi, and congee, but they also enjoy this hearty take on rice porridge, which is made with leftover rice, water or broth, and pinches of minced pork dropped into the simmering soup as the rice softens up. It’s a quick supper, an easy-to-fix meal for someone who is convalescing, and a great way to make excellent use of the too-much-rice that you always want to cook, so as not to ever run out. In hotels with breakfast buffets, you’ll see either Chinese-style rice porridge or Thailand’s version, with a fabulous array of condiments, including chili-vinegar sauce, delicate thread-thin ribbons of fresh ginger, crispy garlic in oil, soy sauce, ground dried chilies, fish sauce, fresh chilies, sugar, sesame oil, tiny cripsy salty fish: What am I forgetting here? If you think of something, chime in via the comments because I think there is more!

Eaten with a spoon, this is typically a one-dish meal for times when the standard Thai meal of freshly-made rice with gahp kao, (with-rice items) a round-up of hearty and brightly-flavored and multi-textured dishes shared with a group of people, isn’t happening for some good reason. At those hotel buffets, it’s one station among many, but the traditional dish stands alone and needs nothing else. I remember having kao tome on the train from Bangkok down to Malaysia years ago, made with shrimp instead of pork. It was a fancy version and I remember it as excellent, but fine for once in a while. This homestyle version, with minced pork and a few condiments, suits me just fine.

Thailand's rice porridge, kao tome, with chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, and crispy garlic in oil

Thailand’s rice porridge, kao tome, with chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, and crispy garlic in oil

I had chicken stock and duck stock in the freezer, so this particular iteration of kao tome is quite rich in the stock department. I’ve made it with water, letting the ground pork and fish sauce create the broth, with wonderful results. Less rich, but nothing missing, nothing at all.

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