It’s been a busy and fruitful week with family visiting from Sydney and Oregon, USA, and a break from cooking for me. Come Monday, the new school term kicks off again and it’s that time again for more soulful home-cooking and easy-to-prepare practical dishes for the family.
One of the easiest and best ‘one pot dishes’ we love making at home would be this Claypot Chicken Rice. As Adam Liaw wrote in his other scrumptiously appealing and simple-to-cook ‘Asian After Work’ (Simple Food For Everyday)—the only trouble with claypot rice is the usual struggle with perfecting that ‘balance of liquid’. As you know, there is the liquid released by the ingredients versus the liquid required to cook the claypot rice. In his recipe, ‘Cheat’s Claypot’, Liaw shares his solution by way of a ‘cheat’s recipe’ to avoid the problem of the right amount of liquid to add. He does this by pre-cooking the white rice.
The recipe I’m sharing from my own experience is similar in technique from his, yet cooked from the rice cooker, one of the most indispensable cooking utensils in my kitchen which I use on an almost daily basis. Yes I love my rice and the last time I had gone on a ‘no carbs’ Dukan Diet I had severe withdrawal symptoms (meaning I nearly ate my own arm…) from this source of starch that I cannot live without, i.e. beyond a few days. If you love rice as much as me then there is no better investment that a rice cooker just to make your life that much easier and your time spent preparing food, more of a pleasure than a chore.
One of the reasons I use the rice cooker for my claypot rice, aside from its convenience, is that I for one, don’t actually appreciate the crusty texture of the rice that some might love about claypot rice. I love the flavour yet not the hard crust of rice that forms and sticks around the rim and edges of the claypot. I pre-cook my rice as well as the chicken, mushrooms and Chinese sausage, (separately) then serve it in a claypot to retain its hot temperature and to allow the flavours to infuse before tucking in.
4 to 6 chicken thighs, (skins off, sliced)
5 large dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked in 1 cup warm water; reserve the liquid)
Chinese cabbage (wombok or xiao bai cai)
1 chinese sausage (lap cheong)
1 small red shallot, sliced
1 inch knob of ginger (grated)
For pre-cooked rice:
2 C jasmine rice grains
1 TB peanut oil
1 TB dark caramel sauce
2 TB oyster sauce
1 tsp salt
Claypot sauce marinade for chicken:
1 inch knob of ginger (grated or pressed)
2 cloves garlic (finely diced or pressed)
1/2 TB chicken seasoning powder
1 tsp white pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
1 TB light soy sauce
1 TB oyster sauce
1 TB dark soy sauce
1 TB sugar
1 TB shaoxing wine
2 tsp cornflour
Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in about 1-2 cups of warm water till they become soft. Squeeze the excess water but reserve aside for cooking the claypot rice. Slice up the mushrooms with stems removed.
Toss and mix the sliced up chicken thigh pieces in a large mixing bowl with the claypot sauce marinade, adding the shiitake at the last. Leave refrigerated overnight for the marinade to infuse.
Once ready to cook, slice up the Chinese sausage. Heat up a wok with 2 TB peanut oil. Add grated ginger and sliced small red shallots and sauté slightly till fragrant. Add the chicken pieces, mushrooms and Chinese sausage and stir-fry for a bit, adding the remaining marinade and a little of the reserved shiitake mushroom liquid to simmer the chicken thighs, sausage and mushrooms till chicken pieces are no longer red(but need not be fully cooked at this stage). Turn off the heat.
Cooking the rice
Wash and rinse 2 cups of white jasmine rice grains. Cook according to the instructions for your rice cooker using readymade chicken stock to the appropriate level for the amount of rice (in this case it wold be for 2 cups of rice) with 1 TB peanut oil. Add 1 TB of dark caramel sauce for colour, 2 TB oyster sauce, 1 tsp salt (if desired) to the rice. Add the vegetables of your choice.
Start the rice cooker. Once rice is done, toss in the cooked chicken pieces, mushrooms and Chinese sausage into the rice and stir-through. The texture should be just right and the rice should not be wet. Add any extra liquid sauce from the cooked ingredients.
To serve, garnish with coriander, spring onions and deep fried shallots. Best with some chilli sauce. My favourite is some funky sambal belachan!