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Recipe : Instant pot porridge~soft rice (Baby food or not)

In Japan, one of the first food we give babies is rice. Our rice cereal equivalent is what we call “10 bai gayu” – “10x porridge” which means rice is cooked with 10x the water. We make them, then puree them, traditionally using the Japanese version of mortal and pestle, Suribachi and Surikogi Bou. However, in modern life, blender does its job, especially for the “stage 1” porridge since you need to puree them. As the baby grows, we recommend gradually decreasing the amount of water down to “7 bai gayu” “5 bai gayu” “3 bai gayu”, eventually getting down to “nan pan” which means “soft rice”, which at this point we stop calling it porridge, and the ratio is down to 1 rice : 1.5 water. People do different things in the beginning, like crushing the raw rice before cooking or chopping up the porridge to make it easy for the babies to eat, but by the time you’re down to “5 bai gayu”, which also seems to be the standard congee consistency that grownups eat when they’re not feeling well (or they just want to), we don’t really take extra steps and feed them as is.

Porridge takes time. You wash the white rice (always wash white rice if you want to cook Japanese style. I don’t know how other cultures go around this but Japanese rice we definitely wash/rinse them. Zero dispute.), ideally you soak it at least 30 minutes. This doesn’t only apply to porridges, but if you really want good rice you do it for regular rice too. Cooking the porridge will take like 30-40 minutes. However…tadaaaaa the ever so loved PRESSURE COOKER!!! I have been saved countless time by my 6qt Instant Pot with baby foods for Muffin. I didn’t have one when I had Biscuit and well…things were more traditional. I would do the same with Muffin but hey I have the technology and now my time is even more of a premium so I will take any time-saving tricks. This thing will cook most baby foods in 15 mins. Cube most veggies the right size, put them in small mason jars, put them on the trivet and 1cup+ of water, pressure high for 10~15 mins NPR will likely make the simplest finger food. Rice also can be made perfectly this way too. For grownup ‘regular’ white rice, I do 1 rice : 1 water ratio and do 10 mins NPR when I don’t feel like using my beloved Zojirushi Rice Cooker I will never let go of. Some people do 8 mins. I also do pot-in-pot because I hate washing the Instant pot pot encrusted in rice (Maybe I should just invest in one of these non-stick ones…) so I use my 1.5qt stainless bowl. For porridges, I do 15 minutes + NPR. You may need to mix it up a little as rice tends to sink to the bottom, but oh it is perfect every time. .5 cup rice and 1.5 cup water is a nice starter amount that fits in this bowl of mine. You also don’t want to make too much at once anyways. That’ll make smallish portion x6, maybe a serving or two for a grownup. You’d probably want to make more if they’re for grownups. One other tip is…never store cooked rice in a fridge. Put them in containers, like one of these Stasher dudes or some cheaper alternative that works just fine or whatever container (thinner you make the packet the faster you can defrost), OR get one of the various silicone or non-silicone baby food/ice cube trays, cool it to room temp and FREEZE THEM. Moisture goes away in the fridge quick resulting in dry gross leftover rice. Frozen cooked rice keeps the moisture so it defrosts like new.

So I usually make a smallish batch for the baby, portion them in small mason jars, and freeze them. Being Japanese, rice appears in at least 80% of dinners and lunches, so it saves a whole lot of time. We live in a smallish New York apartment and our fridge and freezer isn’t huge, so this is all I can store at once without overfilling the freezer amongst other stuff I need to freeze, but y’all in the ‘burbs with bigger fridge probably can store more at once. But…don’t overdo it, they CAN freeze a long while but they do absorb freezer smell, kid may not like it.

Bonus! The other thing that takes time that appears a bunch in our dinner is UDON. The cooking time varies depending on the noodle you get, but the one I keep on getting takes a LONG while to cook to the softness I want for the baby. But, turns out it is perfect when you pressure cook the same way. You don’t have to measure the water, you just need enough, break up the noodles in smaller, like .5 inches or whatever length your child is ready for, and 15min->NPR with pot-in-pot. It’s best if you leave it in the water for a while to get it tender to the core, then rinse the noodles off in a colander with running water to get rid of some extra goop. Again, you could do this straight in your pot but it may take shorter. Las time I made the rice it struck me that…why the heck not make some rice and some udon at the same time? Duh?? and well, it worked perfectly and I am super happy about this.

Hope this helps some people save time making the staple for the baby every meal 🙂

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