Monday, June 30, 2008
Chicken claypot rice. This is a healthy (but not any less delicious) version where less oil is used and the rice is not first fried.
Chicken claypot rice (CCR) is not something easily available in KK. I can only think of two places that serve CCR, and one of them technically should be disqualified because they use a stainless steel pot instead. The other one is a half-shop at 'old' Foh San, next to the egg tarts shop. I went there for the first time 2 weeks ago and was impressed with their CCR, which was cooked by a lad of about 15/16. I was also impressed that the whole family was helping out--little bro taking the orders and little sis bringing the food, mom in the back cooking noodles and older bro in the front whipping up delicious CCR. It is rare to find Malaysian-Chinese working in restaurants anymore. Now that the Govt has pledged to seek out and expel the illegal workers in this country, maybe we'll see more locals in restaurants. I don't know why it is not our culture to have our kids working part-time jobs. The irony is when they go overseas to study, they willingly work there even if it's sweeping the floors. I hate it when some (illegal) waitress carries my bowl of soup noodles with half her thumb washing in it. You know how 'good' our Fomema people are in doing health screening. In fact, do you know that after a certain number of years in the country, the foreign workers do not need to be health-screened? Let's hope the Govt can do what they say they'll do. Anyway, let's have a happy post this morning.
I admit I have never cooked CCR before. I have of course cooked the electric rice cooker version but never thought of attempting using claypots until Nee posted on it. And you know folks, it's a cooking epiphany: once you've faced your fears of cooking a certain dish, the fear is gone. CCR turned out to be nearly as easy as cooking instant noodles! Not only that, there's hardly any frying and there's minimal washing too because you cook and eat from the pot. I'm thinking claypot everything now. Btw, my beautiful claypots were hand-carried from Guangzhou last year, which is dumb when I read that Nee bought hers locally for about RM4/US$1.25 each.
So I watched the young boy cook CCR and learnt a few tricks. One is to apportion the chicken & mushrooms topping so that the pot cover is opened only briefly when you add the topping because the cooking liquid will evaporate quickly. Soak your rice and the whole dish will cook in 20 min only! I upped the little fella and added fried shallots oil to the rice for extra aroma and you can add fried garlic too if you like.
Claypot Chicken Rice (4 big servings)
1/2 chicken (1 kg), chopped into small pieces
8 dried chinese mushrooms, soaked & stems removed
2 chinese sausages , sliced
1 T fresh ginger strips
1 tsp mui hiong salted fish
1. Mix all the above (except sausage slices, or even the salted fish if you don't want it mixed in) together with 1/3 t salt, 2 T light soy sauce, 3 T dark soy sauce, 1/2 T sesame oil, 1/4 t white pepper, 2 T shaoxing wine, 1 T oyster sauce and 3 T water.
2. Fry the sausage slices or if you are a health-freak, toast it in the oven like I did.
3. Divide the chicken, mushroom and sausages into 4 equal portions, including the marinade sauce (or play favoritism like me and give Son no 1 more chicken and Son no 2 more sausages).
3 1/2 cups fragrant rice
5 shallots, sliced
chicken stock or water
1. Wash the rice and soak it in water for 1 hour. Put 2 T veg oil in a pot (you can even do this in the claypot, dividing the shallots equally) and fry the shallots until slightly browned.
2. Place the claypot on top of the stove at high heat. Pour away the water from the rice and divide the soaked rice among 4 claypots, stir in the onions and oil (omit the oil if you are health-conscious) and pour chicken stock or water to cover the rice upto 3/4 cm above the level of the rice. When the water boils, let it do so for 2 min, then lower the heat to as low as it can get and add the topping with the marinade sauce and quickly cover the lid. If you like your CCR dark, add another splash of dark soy sauce over the topping in the pot. Let the rice cook for 20 minutes. Do not open the lid until it's time. If you smell burnt rice too early on, the fire's too high. I found that the rice gets cooked in 15 min but you need the extra time to get the funjiao, which is the bonus at the bottom of the pot.
Funjiao, the crunchy fragrant burnt rice at the bottom of the pot, is essential to a good pot of CCR.