Saturday, 26 July 2008

Cantonese claypot rice, without the claypot

Claypot rice is a traditional one-pot meal that my family loved eating on the streets of Kampar in Malaysia. The rice and other ingredients (such as chicken, Chinese sausage and mushrooms) are baked in the claypot on top of a charcoal stove. According to some, the crispy (but not burnt) pieces of rice stuck to the sides and bottom of the claypot are arguably the best part of the dish. The claypot goes from stove to table and everyone either has their own little claypot rice or shares from a communal pot, and the design of the claypot ensures maximum retention of heat and food remains hot for a good while.

Claypot rice

Many stalls and restaurants now cook them on a gas stove instead of charcoal stove, and some argue that charcoal-cooked ones still taste better. Claypot rice can also be cooked in a rice cooker if you don't have a claypot or want the convenience of a rice cooker. You will not get the crispy rice bits at the bottom of the pot but I'm not a big fan of them anyway so that's not a problem. The seasoning for claypot rice is the standard mix of oil and light and dark soy sauces but I also like to use a spice paste that I have found to taste pretty authentic. Instructions at the back make it quite dummy proof too. Chicken, Chinese sausage and dried mushrooms are traditionally used but you can also make this with seafood. AP does not seem to like Chinese sausage so I have replaced that with bacon (you can also use pancetta or even chorizo for different flavours). This is not the most authentic way to make claypot rice, but it is simple and convenient and I get the taste of home - and that's good enough for me!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 portions cooked rice, cooled
4 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless (or 2 chicken breasts), cut into bite-sized pieces
2 stalks spring onion, chopped and separate the white and green parts
6 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 15 mins and thinly sliced (discard tough stalk)
1 Chinese sausage, sliced (or use 3 rashers of bacon finely chopped)
1 small of piece salted fish, cut into small pieces (optional)

Seasoning for chicken:

1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1/2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Dash of white pepper

Seasoning for rice (or use spice paste):

2 tsp oil
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chilli oil (optional)

1. Marinate the chicken pieces and set aside for 30 minutes.
2. If using, fry the salted fish pieces in oil until crisp and set aside. Heat some oil in a large pan or wok and stir fry the white parts of the spring onions, chicken, Chinese sausage and mushrooms for a few minutes until the chicken turns white and is almost cooked. Set aside.
3. Add the cooked rice, chicken, mushrooms and Chinese sausage back to the wok and pour in the rice seasoning or the spice paste, and green parts of the spring onions. Mix well over medium heat and then transfer to a rice cooker. Let the rice mixture sit on 'Keep Warm' or 'Low' setting for 15-20 minutes for the flavours to mix thoroughly. Garnish with chopped spring onions, coriander and/or salted fish and serve.

Tip: It is worth marinating the chicken pieces even if you're using a spice paste. The flavour and texture of the meat will thank you for it.

This is the spice paste that I use from Asian Home Gourmet. I have tried a number from their range, such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Tom Yum Soup, Pad Thai, Nonya Curry and so on and they always taste pretty good. They are made with natural ingredients without funky E-numbers, MSG or strange chemical names, and tastes good too, so that ticks all the boxes in my book. I have seen them quite frequently in many Oriental shops here in the UK so they should not be difficult to find (although I often just stock up on some when I am in Singapore).

Claypot rice spice pack


eula said...

That looks delicious. My mom makes this once in a while and it's such a treat. She puts salted duck and Chinese sausage on top and seasons the rice with soy sauce and oil. Not healthy at all but so very tasty. I hope to try yours one day. Thanks for sharing!

VeggieGirl said...

Claypot rice... I like the idea!! One-pot/bowl meals are great "go-to" dishes, for sure.

didally said...

Yummy.. i love the traditional claypot rice. I do my own rice cooker version. Love one-pot meals like this.

noble pig said...

It looks lovely, I have never made anything like this before.

mycookinghut said...

Love one-pot meal is always my favourite. This dish brings the taste of Malaysia... yum..

noobcook said...

Thanks for your recommendation, I'll try out the spice one day! Your claypot rice looks yummylicious :)~

Mrs Ergül said...

Now I'm craving for this!

Cindy. Lo. said...

The rice itself looks so dang good in the picture,
It makes me so hungry here..

diva said...

i adore claypot rice but haven't had for a very long while miss it very much. and definitely lots of oyster sauce please!

Nate-n-Annie said...

For me, the salted fish is not optional ;-)

We make claypot chicken rice in our rice cooker. I know they say that the crispy bits are the best, but I don't particularly care for them.

Interesting use of bacon in this dish. I'd try that!

thelaygastronomer said...

I like the idea behind your blog! This looks delicious -- each Asian cuisine seems to have their own take on a claypot rice dish (I'm thinking of Korean bib bim bap), and it's interesting to note the nuances between them. I just started food blogging, but do feel free to check me out at Advice and suggestions are always welcome!

Anonymous said...

what kind of salted fish do you use. i love this dish and have always wanted to make it at home. i've even went to buy salted fish.

Anonymous said...

oops i meant to say in my previous post I bought a claypot already and chinese sausage. But it won't be complete without the salted fish. love your blog!

Joe Horn said...

wow, looks good. Just found the picture on tastespooting and I wanted to eat it now!

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Anonymous said...

my mom loves the bottom of the pot with the crispy hard rice. When we went to vietnam, she requested we go somewhere to eat that had it XD

MrOrph said...

When the rice gets that way, a little crispy, in paella, it is called socarrat and it is the, absolute, best part. It is how you know you did it right.

This looks great, way better than take-out/away but I still need help getting my rice not to be so sticky when I wok it.

daphne said...

I love this! So easy to make too. I dont usually use spice mix for this and do wish that i hv a claypot.. but certainly this makes a hearty and warm one pot dish for winter.

Becky said...

yum. claypot rice is always so delicious and so comforting. i want some now. nice job!

tigerfish said...

I AM going to buy that! Looks absolutely delicious! *nom nom nom...chomp chomp chomp*
sorry, I'm just been impolite to "eat" in front of you :P

gaga said...

That looks so tasty! I love claypots and will definitely keep my eye out for that paste. Thanks for sharing this!

kittie said...

This looks so good - I love one-pots, and this one looks especially tasty!

Nilmandra said...

Thanks for all the comments, folks!

Eula: Haha I hear you on the 'not healthy' part. But tastes so good! :)

Noobcook: Yeah those spice packs are worth trying out, although you can easily go to the food courts or hawker stalls for your fix, not like us overseas!

Nate n Annie: I love salted fish too. It's not great for you health-wise, but a little bit does wonders to the flavour.

The Lay Gastronomer: Thanks for your kind comment. I'll be sure to drop by your blog.

Haley: Thanks for the invitation. Unfortunately being in the middle of a move means I don't have the time or kitchen supplies to cook as I used to. Hopefully I'll be able to participate in blog events again soon.

Mr Orph: Ah, thanks for the info about paella and soccarat. As for rice being sticky in the wok, it helps to use cold rice that has been refrigerated. Overnight/leftover rice is best. And as long as it is not overcooked of course!

snappiness said...

I want to try this instead of a stir fry for Wed dinner, but am not clear on how to make it in the rice cooker. If I put rice in, then layer all the additional stuff, how much water would I add? Normally I add water to the line (3 cups rice, fill to #3), but maybe the extra ingredients will throw that off? Would I cook the meats before putting them in the rice cooker or just do the whole thing in there?

Nilmandra said...

Snappiness: Oop sorry if I wasn't clear enough in the post. The rice and meat are essentially cooked in the wok (rather like fried rice) and then transferred to the rice cooker for the flavours to infuse (to imitate being in a claypot). Theoretically, one might be able to cook everything from the start in a rice cooker (raw chicken and all) but I have not figured that out yet! Btw, if you're looking for a one pot dish that all goes into the rice cooker from the start, try the three mushroom rice recipe.

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