For dinner last night, I stole a recipe that appeared on Mark Bittman's blog, Bitten, last week. I say "stole" because I adapted it so completely that it's almost a different recipe. Almost.
I had actually stumbled upon Bittman's recipe for savory oatmeal on SeriousEats.com, a website dedicated to both restaurant and home-prepared cuisine. The recipe was simple: cook one cup of dried oats (just regular old oatmeal; steel cut oats take nearly four times as long to cook) in two cups water along with a dash of sea or kosher salt for seasoning. When the water reaches a boil, stir the oatmeal and lower the heat, stirring frequently for five minutes until the water is mostly absorbed. Add two tablespoons of soy sauce and one tablespoon of fresh chopped scallion, stirring both into the mixture. Take the oatmeal off the heat and pour into a bowl, garnishing with a final tablespoon of chopped scallions.
The recipe sounded good (and easy) enough, but why not go farther, I thought. I substituted the soy sauce for tamari and added an additional teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and teaspoon of Frank's red hot. Sriracha would have been more appropriate here, but I didn't have any on hand. I topped this dish with a soft-boiled egg (easier to prepare than poached, but similar in concept). The final result was something approximating congee, a thick porridge that was salty, spicy, and not over-the-top gooey. The egg made the oatmeal more of a meal, adding much-needed protein. And the runny yolk was perfect in the middle of all that spice and tamari.
Savory oatmeal, an idea I had never really considered too deeply, seems like the perfect quick fix for lunch or dinner. I'm thinking of experimenting with other presentations. Bittman also mentioned an oatmeal he enjoyed in Italy, topped with tapenade and olive oil. Delicious.