One of my fav quick meals is the Shanghainese cai fan, a pot of rice cooked with loads of veg. All you need to go with cai fun is a meat dish and a light soup, or you can even add some fried meat such as chicken or pork or Chinese sausages into the rice while it cooks and that's a meal. Another quick meal I like to do is the men tiao. This is home-made noodles made instantly, and cooks faster than dried mi fun. I like my men tiao cooked in chicken stock, with a couple of slices of fresh fish and some iceberg lettuce. Another version I like to do is men tiao with pork slices, pork balls, liver and sayur manis.
One-pot rice casseroles are the easiest thing to cook if you are out of ideas/lazy/on a budget/all three. My fav rice casserole is of course dried Chinese mushrooms with chicken, flavored with plenty of soy sauce and garlic. Last week I cooked a coriander chicken rice casserole (a recipe from The Australian Women's Weekly) which was okay, meaning it won't give you lots of compliments. I'd make some changes to the recipe if I cook this again: I'd chop the chicken into smaller pieces and cook them in the stock to make the chicken moister and more tender. I'd also marinade the chicken and mushrooms together so they are better-flavored.
Coriander Chicken Rice Casserole
4 large chicken thighs or 1/2 chicken, chopped into large pieces, with or w/o skin
2 cups long grain rice, washed
8-10 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked & sliced
1 brown onion, chopped
1 can chicken stock or enough home-made chicken stock
1 T coriander seeds (ketumbar), toasted lightly & pounded
3 T fish sauce
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 t ground tumeric
oil, salt, white pepper
1. Marinade the chicken and mushrooms with the fish sauce, 1/4 t salt and some white pepper for an hour.
2. You can choose not to fry the chicken and mushrooms. Frying them will give better color and flavor. Just put about 1 T oil into your wok or fry pan and fry the chicken and mushrooms. When browned, add the marinade sauce and about 2 T water and cover, cook for 2-3 minutes.
3. Heat 1 T oil in a claypot or casserole pot, add the onions, garlic, coriander seeds and fry in low-medium fire for a minute. Add the rice and tumeric powder and stir well until fragrant, another 2 minutes or so. Do not burn the rice. If you are using an electric rice cooker, you now tranfer the fried rice to the cooker.
4. Top the rice with the chicken and mushroom (and any liquid) and add enough chicken stock so that the water above the rice is about 1.75 cm.
5. Heat the pot over the stove until rice boils, decrease the heat to low and let it cook another 10 minutes. Switch off and leave rice to finish cooking.
6. Sprinkle finely chopped (instead of cutting coarsely like I did) fresh coriander over the rice and serve hot.