I’ve come around to oatmeal again this winter, this blustery, late-bloomer of a winter that’s been littering feathery snow every other week, closing down school and work, painting the trees outside my window an elegant gray-white. Another snow flurry fest is supposedly on the radar, despite the official arrival of spring days ago. Jack Frost did not get the memo.
So oatmeal. Oatmeal feels cozy, safe, consoling, like Goldilock’s porridge but with better marketing. I’d put it in the same family of comfort as rice and polenta, the same trend bucket as pomegrante and avocado. It’s both quick and forgiving: five minutes flat of simmering with water or milk, and an extra minute or two won’t hurt, a necessary buffer in the chaos of morning preparations.
I like oatmeal sweet: a tiny downpour of maple syrup, a dusting of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, a stir of fresh or frozen berries. If I have time, cooked apples or pears with cinnamon forms a sort of deconstructed breakfast pie.
But even better: savory oatmeal. A bit salty, with a fried egg on top, the golden yolk streaming into the oatmeal like a godly sauce. (I was skeptical, as you might be, but it meets the logic test. And, well, does not rice worth both ways? Rice pudding and rice with savory curry, say?) And, as with rice, a squirt or two or three of fish sauce adds an excellent umami punch, if you are fish-sauce inclined. (We are.)
Savory Oatmeal with Soy Sauce and Scallions
Inspired by Mark Bittman & seriouseats.com
(doubles nicely, but you may need to simmer longer than 5 minutes)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup oatmeal (quick cooking — not instant or steel cut)
- 1-3 teaspoons soy sauce, to taste
- 1 scallion, chopped (green parts, white parts if you like)
- 1 egg
- Bit of bacon grease, pat of butter, or drizzle of olive oil
Add the oatmeal to boiling water, reduce heat to a simmer. Add scallions.
Simmer 5 minutes or until it reaches the consistency you like
Meanwhile, slick a frying pan with a bit of bacon grease (or butter or olive oil) on medium-high. (Yes, we’ve started saving our bacon grease; it’s delicious and thrifty! Once it cools just slightly, pour it into a jar and store in the fridge.) Crack in the egg and fry to your liking.
Stir soy sauce into the oatmeal. Scoop into bowl. Top with fried egg and dot with extra soy sauce, if you like. Stare out the window, sink your spoon in, and count the snowflakes drifting down.