mama's famous cabbage rice

No amount of words can adequately describe how much I miss my mum's homecooked comfort food. So I will occasionally try to replicate some of her signature dishes just to have a taste of home, one of which is her famous cabbage rice - 高丽菜饭 (pronounced as koh-lay-cai-peng in hokkien). It is a dish that can be eaten on its own when you're feeling lazy due to the simplicity of the cooking method and the many chunky bits of goodness mixed in with the rice, or you can accompany it with one or two extra side dishes if you have time to whip them up.

After learning from a couple of past failed attempts because I always managed to either forget to boil the cabbage or to leave out the seasoning entirely and so on, I finally got it quite close to Mum's standard in the last attempt even though I decided to do away with adding the chicken stock and chicken pieces. I have outlined below the full recipe that I managed to come up with after a phone call to Mum to clarify on some of the little details such as "do I need to boil the cabbage first?" and incorporating all the lessons learnt from the past few experiments.

Ingredients (serves three):
- two cups of rice
- two cloves of garlic finely chopped
- half a head of cabbage
- six or seven dried shitake mushrooms
- a handful of dried shrimps
- two chinese sausages
- cooking oil
- sesame oil
- salt
- ground white pepper

- spring onions for garnishing (optional)
- chicken stock (optional)
- chicken pieces approximately 2cm x 2cm, marinated in chinese wine and light soy sauce for at least 30min (I didn't add chicken this time but it's highly recommended you add the chicken as it significantly adds to the flavour)

Wash the cabbage and cut into big slices approximately 6cm x 2cm. Place them in a pot filled with water to cover all of the leaves and let it boil until soft. Soak the dried shrimps and shitake mushrooms in hot water until soft. Slice the already soft shitake mushrooms and the chinese sausages.

Put the rice in the rice cooker and set it to cook. If you want it to be more flavourful, you can replace the water with chicken stock although I find this makes it too salty for my liking. You can probably experiment with a mixture of water and stock.

Add a tablespoon of cooking oil to a deep frying pan or wok on medium heat. Add in the garlic when the pan is hot and stir fry until slightly brown.

(Additional step I did away with: add in the chicken and stir fry until the meat is about 90% cooked.)

Add in the dried shrimps and chinese sausages and stir fry for about 1min. Then add in the mushrooms and the boiled cabbage and stir fry for another 1min. Add a pinch of salt and some ground white pepper to taste.

By this time, the rice in the rice cooker should be about half cooked. Add the entire pan of the stir fried mix into the rice cooker on top of the rice. Drizzle some sesame oil over it and leave it to cook. When the rice is cooked, stir up the contents to mix all of them in evenly. Cover the rice cooker and leave it for a minute or two. It should look like the below. Ready to serve. ^^v

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