amazing oatmeal porridge

I know that oatmeal porridge should not be the first food that I blog about in this blog I just started. It is not very photogenic nor original – my first post on food should be about something more exciting. However, I had a huge craving to eat oatmeal porridge, and this is what my first post on food will be about.

During my trip to Switzerland, I got in touch with a few foods from the nostalgic past. Ovaltine (or Ovomaltine as it is known as in Europe), the nutritious chocolate malt drink powder in the signature orange tin, was one. Oatmeal porridge was another. Hong Kong was still a British colony when I was a child, and there are a lot of British and European influences in the local cuisine. For example, while Hong Kong is famed for its delicate Cantonese cuisine, the locals also enjoy their breakfast of French toast and Ovaltine (or Horlicks) at the local “char chan teng” (茶餐庭), casual cafes which serves all types of foods from tasty beef and noodle stir-fry dishes to steaks and fries with a HK twist. The menus often have so many items (and all at a very reasonable price) that I think if it would not be my love to experiment in the kitchen that I would love to live in a “char chan teng” (drooling just thinking about it).

Getting back on to the main topic, oatmeal porridge (English-style) was something I loved since I was a child. However, moving to Japan had made me forget about this delicious friend and I was very pleased to be reacquainted with it in Switzerland. The hotel made it with big oat flakes, different from the rolled oats I was used to. The porridge made with big oat flakes had more texture, and had a nutty flavor I loved! I quickly went and picked up a bag from the local supermarket.

To recreate that delicious dreamy flavor of the porridge I ate in the Swiss hotel, I actually looked for a recipe for making “hotel oatmeal” instead of doing it randomly as I usually did in the past. I found a very comprehensive post “How to cook perfect porridge” by Felicity Cloake for the Guardian in which she compares how the tips suggested by chefs of high-end hotels for their oatmeal porridge would turn out, and eventually offering her own recipe based on her findings.

Here’s the recipe with slight modifications.

Ingredients (for two large servings)
– 1 cup of oatmeal (I used large oat flakes)
– 2 cups of water
– 1 cup of milk
– generous pinch of salt
– brown sugar and more milk to taste

1. Toast the oats in a large fry pan over medium high heat until the oats become fragrant.
2. Put oats in a medium-sized heavy saucepan or cocotte and add milk and water. Heat over high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula, until the mixture is boiling.
3. Bring the heat down to low, and let the mixture simmer, continuing to stir constantly. Simmer until desired thick consistency (remembering that when it is served extra milk will be added which will thin it so a thick porridge with a creamy consistency initially would be desirable). Add salt and continue stirring a little longer.
4. Once the porridge is of desired consistency, turn off heat, put the lid on the saucepan/cocotte, and let sit for another 5 minutes.
5. Serve with milk and brown sugar on top.

It is the first time I toasted the oats before cooking them, and I think it really made a difference! Oatmeal porridge has always been a comfort food, but the oatmeal porridge made from toasted large oat flakes tasted more interesting – both in terms of flavor and texture. Nuttier and chewier, and the golden color the toasting adds makes the dish look very appetizing.

So while this is still not the most photogenic dish (topped off with my limited photography skills), to me it is certainly a very appealing dish especially in the morning.

What is everyone’s favorite oatmeal porridge recipe? I quite like the taste of this one, but if anyone has any special recipe for oatmeal, I would love to hear about it:)



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