Xi Fan – Comfort Food for an “ABC”

It’s a chilly 50 degrees F in sunny southern California…welcome to our winters…but when the temperature drops, for this ABC (American-born-Chinese)…or ABT (American-born-Taiwanese) kid, it just means it’s a perfect opportunity to make myself some xi fan and have some friends over. It truly is the best comfort food…super hot rice porridge with all the sides to complement such as fried gluten (my favorite!), braised eel, dried fish fu, sauteed tofu, greens, ‘shrooms, and baked cheese curls! It’s comfort food that brings me back to the childhood days where practically every Sunday morning, my mom would make us rice porridge and lots of other fixin’s like green onion pancakes (with modified flour tortilla skins), steamed soft tofu with soy paste dipping sauce, and other random yummies.

But now that I’m all grown up, it’s learning how to make this porridge all by myself. Thankfully the internet exists now so I don’t have to call my mom every time I need to know how to make something I remember eating as a kid and can experiment on my own in consultation with anyone else I can find through the internet. This has been my favorite website for some basic Chinese cooking tips (as I’ve had to look up twice now what the perfect rice:water ratio is just to make rice!).

But in the end, this is how I made my:

Fish Rice Porridge

Servings: Approximately 6


  • 1.5 cups of white rice
  • water
  • ginger
  • green onion
  • white fish
  • salt
  • sesame sauce
  • pepper
  • flour


  1. Make rice ahead of time in rice cooker (a day ahead). I was too paranoid that I wouldn’t get the ratio rice for uncooked rice.
  2. Throw rice in crock pot about 2.5 hours before you plan to eat. Add water to the rice in the ratio of 1 rice amount to 2 additional water amounts. Break up the rice in the water and leave it be.
  3. Meanwhile, filet the fish into small pieces, marinate with some salt, pepper, sesame oil, and flour (I didn’t have cornstarch in the house).
  4. Sliver some ginger and slices of green onion.
  5. Throw fish, ginger, green onion into the crockpot and leave it alone til you’re ready to serve. Stir a few times every so often just to make sure it doesn’t stick in the pot.


This is definitely the lowest maintenance rice porridge I’ve made with the best results. I remember my mom always watching over the pot of rice porridge on the stove, stirring constantly so it wouldn’t burn on the bottom of the pot and adding more water until it was the perfect consistency. In my laziness and not wanting to watch over a pot of porridge on the stove, I tried making plain rice porridge in a rice cooker only to have lots of that gummy rice water boil over in the cooker making a sticky mess to clean. Then I threw the porridge into a pot and added the fish to make it fish rice porridge. It turned out ok, but just lots of cleanup. Another time, about a month later, I was even more not in the mood to cook and forgot how annoying it was to clean up gooey rice water that overflows from a rice cooker, and threw all the ingredients in the rice cooker…lets just say it was even messier and also made the rice cooker smell fishy & gingery. Blech! I had to scrub that thing and rinse out with water what should not have been rinsed out in an electric rice cooker with all its coils/metal parts and air it out for a good long while . So, enter the borrowed crock pot from mom with a little labor…and it’s perfected fish rice porridge simple enough to make on a FT working girl schedule.

    • e
    • January 29th, 2011 5:26pm

    what are green onion pancakes with modified tortilla skins? no way. why not just make them from scratch?

      • Peggy
      • January 30th, 2011 12:11am

      It’s the quick and easy way…throw a tortilla on the skillet, and pour some eggs whisked with green onion onto the tortilla, fold it over and cook til the egg is done, and slice it up like a quesedilla from Del Taco. Pretty good stuff…though it used to make my tummy hurt for some reason. Maybe it was the flour tortilla…

    • Shi :)
    • March 28th, 2011 5:12pm

    Hello Peggy!:)
    guess who i am ^.^

      • Peggy
      • March 28th, 2011 11:56pm

      Hmmm…could it be Shihang?! :)

    • Shi :)
    • April 4th, 2011 5:15pm

    :) :D

  1. You forget pi dan tofu! (thousand year old eggs and tofu :)

      • Peggy
      • May 31st, 2011 9:35pm

      That was featured in our other xi fan meal. :) But yes, that is a good one for the xi fan spread.

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