Friday, June 1, 2007

Shanghai Vegetable Rice (Cai Fun)


This is similar to the Cantonese chicken and mushroom claypot rice in that everything is cooked together. Since it has protein, carbs and fibre/vitamins, all you need is to add a good soup and its a complete meal. Simple yet very good. I always swear I'd stop at one bowl and end up eating two. This recipe, from my Shanghainese mom-in-law (MIL), has been adapted for cooking in the electric rice cooker. You can opt to omit the sausage or meat because true Shanghai veg rice is just that--rice and veg. To go with it, you need to serve other dishes but at home we often add sausages and meat and that, with a good soup, makes a simple meal.

Shanghai Vegetable Rice

4 cups long-grain uncooked rice (serves 4-6)
4-6 chinese sausages, cut into 1 cm chunks
1 kg 'pak choi' cut into 2 cm lengths
1/2 bulb garlic, chopped fine
1 chicken stock cube or home-made stock
1 1/2 t. salt

1. Fry the sausages till lightly browned. Remove. You can use the oil that has seeped out from the sausages (saturated animal oil but fragrant!) or use veg oil, then fry the garlic 30 seconds, add the veg and 1/2 t. (teaspoon) salt and fry till veg is reduced to half, or wilted. Remove.
2. Wash the rice, add stock/water upto level 2 1/2, top it with any water that has seeped out from the veg. (Remember that the veg will give out more water as it cooks and you don't want a soft mess, but you also don't want rice that's too hard or uncooked in the middle). Add the sausages, remaining 1 t. salt and crumble the stock cube (if using) over the rice. Stir and set it to cook.
3. Let rice cook till it is almost done boiling. Add the veg; do not stir. Quickly close the lid and let the cooking continue.
4. When the rice is done, press the cook button again to let it cook a while longer.
5. Before serving, stir the rice well to mix everything together.

Note: If concerned about the lard in the sausages, reduce the sausages to half and make up with lean diced pork marinated with salt and white pepper. My MIL now omits the sausages altogether and uses pork or chicken, for health reasons. By the way, Shanghainese food is known to be the oiliest (not getting back at my MIL; its a fact) among all Chinese food so don't scrimp on the oil when cooking this. In fact, the traditional way to cook this dish is to fry the uncooked rice in oil before boiling it but really its extra work plus extra oil. In my pic the rice is too soft; blame it on my helper, Vero!


Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

Hey, the Pak Choi here as in Chinese Cabbage ?

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

hi denise, no not chinese cabbage. bak choi is tt veg with very dark green leaves n white stems. u don't even have to add sausages if eating this rice with other dishes.

Gowshika said...

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