This was a dish that author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's late grandmother made that she called "gambling rice," because ran a small gambling den in her home to make a bit of money. She fed the gamblers to prolong their stay. The dish is a stir-fry of dried shrimp, pork belly, cabbage, mushrooms and shallots that is combined with rice; it all cooks together in a rice cooker. Tan's aunt knew the recipe and passed it down to her.
You can find all of these ingredients at large Asian markets.
Serve with a spicy Asian chili sauce.
- 1.1 pounds (about 2 3/4 cups) white short-grain rice
- 1/2 cup vegetable or corn oil
- 5 ounces (about 5 single-lobe) shallots, minced (a generous 1 cup)
- 1 3/4 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) dried Chinese black or shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water until softened, then drained, stemmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 11 ounces pork belly, cut into small dice (1 3/4 cups)
- 80 to 85 grams (1 package; about 2 cups) dried shrimp (hei bi), soaked in warm water until softened, then drained and cut into small pieces
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional)
- 3/4 pound (about 1/2 medium) green cabbage (discolored or wilted outer leaves discarded), shredded and soaked in water until ready to use
Wash the rice in a large bowl of water, then drain. Repeat this process until the fresh water you pour into the bowl no longer becomes cloudy when you stir the rice around in it. Transfer the drained rice to a large rice cooker. Add enough water so it covers the rice by about 3/4 inch. (Do not turn on the rice cooker yet.)
Heat a large wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the sides. Add the shallots and stir-fry for 8 to 10 minutes, until they're lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shallots to a bowl, leaving as much of the oil in the wok as possible.
Add the diced mushrooms to the wok; stir-fry for about 5 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the bowl with the shallots, leaving as much oil in the wok as possible.
Add the diced pork belly to the wok; stir-fry for about 5 minutes or until the pork has browned, then add the drained, chopped dried shrimp; stir-fry for about 3 minutes.
Return the shallots and mushrooms to the mixture in the wok and stir-fry to mix it all up. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, and add the monosodium glutamate, if desired, then add the cabbage and stir-fry for about a minute, until just wilted. Taste, and add up to 1/2 teaspoon salt, keeping in mind that the mixture will be added to a lot of rice.
Transfer to the rice cooker, stirring to incorporate. Turn on the rice cooker; cook according to the manufacturer's directions.
When the rice is done, it will be moist, soft and flavorful throughout.
Adapted from Tan, author of "Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family" (Voice, 2011).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.