“Clay Pot (“?”) Chicken Rice?– Cooking “Clay Pot” Chicken Rice Using Rice Cooker

IMG_5097

UPDATED POST ON 8-1-2015  – New image upload

 

IMG_7528

INTRODUCTION

I have to say that this is not the authentic clay pot chicken rice recipe. It is prepared using conventional rice cooker and I have amended the method of cooking. However, I can assure  readers that the taste will not be compromised much.

IMG_7537

I did not use clay pot to prepare this one pot rice dish for a few reasons. One is that I do not have a clay pot and secondly I do not have the patience and time to monitor cooking rice using clay pots. Thirdly, I believed that even if you use the clay pot but using gas stove to cook, the taste will not be very much different from if you cooked using the rice cooker. In order to have a distinct flavour as what were sold in the eating outlets, conventional stove using charcoal have to be used. Therefore I have opted to use the rice cooker to speed up the preparation.

IMG_5109

CLAYPOT CHICKEN RICE DEFINED

As with other post, it is good to let Wikipedia to explain to the reader this unique dish:

“Clay pot chicken rice (Chinese: 砂煲鸡饭, 瓦煲鸡饭 or 煲仔鸡饭) is usually a dinner dish in the southern regions of China, Malaysia and Singapore. It is typically served with Chinese sausage and vegetables. More often than not, the rice is cooked in the clay pot first and cooked ingredients like diced chicken and Chinese sausage are added in later. Traditionally, the cooking is done over a charcoal stove, giving the dish a distinctive flavour. Some places serve it with dark soya sauce and also dried salted fish. Salted fish enhances the taste of the clay pot chicken rice, depending on the diner’s preference. Due to the time-consuming method of preparation and slow-cooking in a clay pot, customers might have to wait a period of time (typically 15-30 minutes) before the dish is served”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claypot_chicken_rice)

IMG_5091

WHY THIS DISH

I first try this dish when I studied in Kuala Lumpur during the late 1980’s. What I can always remembered was the long timing I have to wait for any order of clay pot chicken rice. Being a student then, I did not have the patience to wait and ended up usually eating economy rice specially catered for the students.

IMG_5101

When I get married, my wife is a firm supporter of clay pot chicken rice. Whenever there is a chance or when she saw there is a store that sells clay pot chicken rice, she would ordered the dish. However, there are not many clay pot chicken rice stalls in Singapore as compared to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

IMG_5107

While I was thinking of what to cook yesterday, my kids were saying that they wanted to eat chicken rice to “break my vegetarian diet fast”! I told them that may be I should let them try another type of chicken rice, but is the darker version of clay pot chicken rice.

IMG_7520


 

WHAT IS NEEDED

Serves 4-6

IMG_7466

  • 3 –4 cups of uncooked rice (washed and set aside) – not in picture

  • 500 grams of chicken drumstick meat or breast (cut into small pieces)

  • 4 dried Chinese mushrooms (soaked and cut into thin strips)

  • 3 shallots (cut into small pieces)

  • 3 Chinese sausages (sliced into small pieces)

  • Some spring onions – White portion – cut into small pieces and leave the green portion of later use

IMG_7464

  • 3 tablespoons of dark soya sauce Star

  • 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce Star

  • 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce Star

  • 3 tablespoons of sesame oilStar

  • 1 tablespoon of white pepperStar

  • 1 tablespoon of corn flour (not in the picture)

  • 30 grams of ginger

  • 50 grams of salted fish (threadfin or ikan kurau preferred) – (optional)

  • I piece of chicken stock cube

  • Pinches of salt

  • Pinches of sugar (optional)

  • Some smoked pork belly (optional)

Note that smoked pork belly, chicken stock and salted fish are optional.

IMG_5099


 

STEPS OF PREPARATION

Marinating Chicken Meat

IMG_7472

  • Cut the chicken meat in thin slices. Chopped or shredded the ginger until very fine pieces. Put the chicken meat in a bowl and marinate with ginger, corn flour and HALF of seasonings marked Star. Marinate for at least 1-2 hours. The longer you marinate, the tastier the chicken meat will be.


 

Deep Frying the Salted Fish (Optional)

IMG_7481

  • Tear the salted fish into small strips. Use medium heat to deep fry it until the salted fish become golden brown and crispy. Drain and put in a piece of oil absorbent paper. Set aside for later use.

Note that this step is optional. In this illustration, I have prepared a lot of salted fish for my other dishes. This salted fish was especially good to go with white porridges and fried rice.

IMG_7532


 

Shallow Frying the Chinese Sausage and Smoked Pork Belly

IMG_7489

  • In a frying pan, put a few tablespoons of cooking oils and stir fry the Chinese sausage for a few minutes under MEDIUM heat. Note that this step is also optional. As for me, I would think that this step will enhance the flavour of the Chinese sausages.

  • Using high heat, use the same oil to stir fry the mushroom slices and chopped shallots plus spring onions until fragrant.

  • At the meantime, wash your rice and dilute the chicken stock cube with some water and set aside.

IMG_7494

  • When the shallots and mushrooms are fragrant, add in the washed rice. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the REMAINING HALF of the seasonings marked Star to the rice. Stir fry of 2-3 minutes until the rice are evenly coated with with the seasonings such as the oyster sauce and dark soya sauce.

  • Add in chicken stock and 3-4 cups of water OR as per the rice cooking illustration in the rice packaging. As the rice had been soaked already, therefore, you may want to reduce the water slightly such that the rice will not be soggy. If you prefer, you can taste a bit of the uncooked rice and assess if there is a need to adjust the taste by adding additional condiments.

  • Cook in the conventional rice cooker using the normal rice cooking function or if you are rushing for time, cook using the “Quick Cook” function.

IMG_7499

  • Open your rice cooker at about 2/3 of the rice cooking cycle, or check if there are bubbles in the rice and water has started to reduce.

  • When the rice is about 2/3 cooked, put in 1 tablespoon of deep fried salted fish (optional), green portion of the spring onion, chicken strips and Chinese sausages on top of the half cooked rice. Continue cooking until the rice cooker indicates that the rice is cooked. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note that every rice cooker is different. You have to occasionally open the rice cooker to check the progress of the cooking. For example, if your rice cooker’s rice cooking function is 30 minutes per cycle, you can check the rice cooker at say 20 minutes after you started the cooking. When the rice cooker function is off, the steam will continue to cook the chicken meat and therefore, served only 10-15 minutes later.

IMG_7501

  • Best serve hot and garnish with additional spring onions or coriander leaves. If you preferred, you can put some deep fried salted fish or shallots on top of your rice. It goes well with freshly cut chilli dip in dark soya sauce.

IMG_5095


 

CONCLUSION

This simpler way of cooking have cut short the cooking time by at least one hour as compared to the traditional cooking method using charcoal stove and clay pot with minimal compromise to the taste.  In addition, it is easier to control the texture of the rice .

IMG_7516

I have pre-seasoned the rice before it is cooked and unlike traditional method, some dark soya sauce was poured on top of the white rice resulting in uneven distribution of spices and soya sauces in the cooked rice. Depending on your taste buds, salted fish or even Chinese sausages are optional. The must haves in this rice dish are the chicken, ginger, sesame oil, oyster sauce and dark soya sauce. With these minimal ingredients, you can produce an equally satisfactory “clay pot” chicken rice.

Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.  

 

IMG_5103


 

IMG_5093


What I “Ate” Today (家常便饭系列)…. 17 August 2013- Special

IMG_3227

You may be surprised about this title! In fact, the title is not correct either. What I am going to post is not “what I cooked today” or “what I ate today”. It was a gathering at one of my relative’s house and she had cooked some Chinese dishes that are not common among Fujian or Guangdong Province.

My relative is from Jiangxi Province and therefore the food that she cooked were rather different! As you all know, Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese are descendants of immigrants mainly from the South Eastern Coastal Fujian and Guangdong Province.


JIANGXI CUISINES

Per Wikipedia:

Jiangxi (Chinese: 江西; pinyin: Jiāngxī; Wade–Giles: Chiang-hsi; Postal map spelling: Kiangsi, Gan: Kongsi) is a province in the People’s Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangxi)

As compared to Nanyang Chinese (Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese), in a household meal, they are more dishes but with a smaller portion. For us, we will usually serve 3 dishes and 1 soup, for them the dishes can be as many as 6-12 dishes. Today, the host is kind enough to cook us 7 dishes (excluding desserts and sweet soups). Jiangxi dishes were rather spicy (chilli hot) and as my kids were having meals with us, for some dishes, they have to prepare both the spicy and non spicy version.

Note than I am currently on a vegetarian  diet and since I did not told them in advance, I have taken my meals before joining them.  Therefore, I did not join them for meals.


SPICY AND SOUR SHREDDED POTATOES (酸辣土豆丝)

IMG_3226

Yes, this is my favourite. Potatoes were julienned into thin strips. There were then soaked in cold water until all the starch were gone. This will make the potatoes “crunchy” and water have to be changed regularly. Look at the thin strips, these were all manually done. They were then stir fried with spring onions, black vinegars and chilli. This is something that I have yet to share the cooking illustrations with readers but I can assure you it is something simple yet the taste is superb. Kids are fighting for this.


BRAISED BEEF (酱牛肉)

IMG_3221

I do not know if there is any translation of this dish. It is basically beef braised in dark soya sauce (and herbs and spices). It was then air dried. If it was kiln dried, it will become smoked beef. This is a form of meat preservation that can be commonly found in many parts of China. My relatives have prepared these meat in China and brought it over.

I still remembered  when I was stationed in Changchun, China about 10 years ago, one of the past time is to buy some braised chicken drumsticks and ate it in the hotel. It is delicious and thinking about it make me drooling. Depending on the regions, the preservations can be sugar based or salt based.


TOMATOES FRIED WITH EGGS (番茄炒蛋)

IMG_3222

A common household dish in China. Besides stir frying, another way of cooking this combination is making it into a soup.

Tomato is not a common vegetable in my  traditional house cooking. Tomatoes are considered vegetables imported from other countries (though this may not be true any more). This is evidenced in its Chinese name literately translated as Western Persimmon (西红柿)or Foreign brinjal (番茄)。In Hokkien dialects, it was called Caucasian Brinjal (angmokio)!  Therefore, my mom seldom cooked tomatoes in the house.

As my girl is a tomato fanatic, this will definitely her top choice. However, as my boy is tomato phobia, this is definitely a good dish to make my boy eating tomato.  Though he is a tomato phobia but he is an egg fanatic. I usually requested that if he wanted to eat 2 tablespoons of eggs, he will need to finish 1 tablespoon of tomatoes. Haha


STEAMED CHINESE SAUSAGE WITH CHINESE BLACK FERMENTED BEANS (腊肠蒸豆豉)

IMG_3223

The Chinese sausages were prepared by my relatives in China and brought it over. You can hardly find any fats in the Chinese sausages. Before I am on my vegetarian diet, I have tried the sausages before and it is delicious.

The Chinese sausages were cut into slices, steamed with Chinese black fermented beans and chopped garlics. May be after my vegetarian diets end, I shall cook this. Good thing about having this post is that it can remind me of what I should cooked when I run out of ideas.


PIGTAILS PORK BELLIES SOUP (猪尾猪肚汤)

IMG_3224

I never have this combination before, pork bellies plus pigtails. The reason is because both meats have different cooking times. You know pork bellies are rather difficult to cook until soft. So, it is not easy to cook this soup. Even if you used pressure cooker, both items will have to be cooked separately. There is no vegetables or white peppers. It is pure meat broth!

If you ask me whether it is yummy or not, of course, I can’t tell you directly because I did not taste it. However, from my years of cooking experience, I can tell you that it is a good soup because the soup had turn milky meaning all the gelatine from the meat have been dissolved in the soup/broth.

Don’t believe me, freeze it and you will see that it become jellish and you can use a knife to cut it into small pieces. Teochew dialect group also have a dish that after braising certain meat for a long time, they cut the meat into very small pieces, freeze the broth and become a jelly. The jelly was then cut into small pieces and served as cold dish (猪头粽)


STIR FRIED CHINESE WATER CRESS (清炒西洋菜)

IMG_3225

I remembered when I told my mother in law and wife to stir fry water cress previously, they are against it as they always used water cress to cook soup. It is generally true that most Chinese dialect groups like to boil soup with this vegetable. However, when I travelled to China, I always have stir fried water cress in restaurants. Usually, this vegetable were stir fried using garlic without any other ingredients.

Try and tell me whether it is nice or not! Remember that you have to stir fry the vegetables using high heat, otherwise, it may be bitter.


STEAMED KUDZU FLOUR COATED PORK WITH PUMPKIN (南瓜米粉肉)

IMG_3220

When I asked for the name of the dish, I was told  “namguamifenrou”. However, I can’t find any rice vermicelli or Beehoon. Later she explained the 米粉 is not rice vermicelli, it means “rice flour”. Though the name is called rice flour, the coating of the meat can be any types of flour. It can be corn flour, sweet potato flour, potato flour and etc.…But today the flour that she used is kudzu flour (葛根粉). Again this is brought from Jiangxi and she disclosed that this was made from wild kudzu roots.

Kudzu has many health benefits and among them are relief symptoms of postmenopausal women, reducing alcohol intake, alleviating cluster headaches, managed metabolic syndromes etc. etc. etc. In Singapore, we do have a type of Chinese instant flu medicine called Kudzu soup (葛根汤) that you consumed when you have a fever and it is believed that it will help to reduce your body temperature. You may want to know more about kudzu from here.

Coming back to the dish. Meat were seasoned and coated with kudzu flour. The meat was then placed on top of the pumpkins and steamed under high heat until the pumpkins were soft. The purpose of the flour is to retain the meat juiciness in the process of steaming. Any meat juices that escaped will dripped into the pumpkins those flavoured the pumpkins.

Lastly, I want to convey my sincere thanks to my relatives who cooked us a sumptuous meal and we really appreciate that.

Hope you like the post today and I find this post is meaningful to share with readers about other different types of Chinese cuisines.

Have a nice day and cheers.