Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mum's claypot chicken rice

This is a one-pot chicken rice dish that is quite unlike the Hainanese version where the chicken and rice are cooked separately. In the clay pot version, usually sold as street food in hawker stalls rather than at fine dining restaurants, marinated chicken pieces are stirred into a bubbling clay pot of well seasoned rice over a charcoal fire, and left to cook into a heady mixture that's utterly fragrant and redolent with tiny bits of salt fish. Once served, you stir the rice in the pot, scooping up the best part which is the slightly burnt and charred bits of rice at the bottom.

My mother had her own version of clay pot chicken rice which doesn't require a clay pot or charcoal stove. It's a one-dish meal that's equally delicious with a side of green salad, pickled cucumbers or stir fried vegetables. I made it when I was away in college, substituting a casserole dish for a rice cooker, which I then stuck into a heated oven the last 15 minutes.

I'm sure chicken on the bone tastes even better, but I'm a lazy eater and thus use boneless chicken pieces. Mum had dried shitake mushrooms in her recipe, but fresh mushrooms work just as well. Salt fish add a definite oomph to the dish but you can leave it out if you're not fond of it or can't get your hands on any.

Mum's claypot chicken rice
About 4 servings

2 chicken breasts, cut into 2 cm pieces
5-6 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water and cut into 2 cm pieces
8 cm of young ginger, thinly julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 3cm slices of salt fish
11/2 cups of rice
3 cups chicken stock (or substitute with a chicken cube dissolved in 3 cups water)
2 tbp oyster sauce
2 tbp fish or soy sauce
1 tbp cooking wine (optional)
Cooking oil

Marinate the cubed chicken in the oyster sauce, fish or soy sauce and cooking wine. Add the ginger strips to the mixture. Leave, covered for about 30 minutes.

Wash the grains of rice. Cook in a rice cooker or pot together with chicken stock and about 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.

Add a little oil to a frying pan and fry the mushrooms. Fry for about 2 minutes and remove.

Add a little oil to the frying pan and fry the salt fish till golden brown. Remove

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to frying pan and add minced garlic and chicken mixture.

After  3 minutes, add the mushrooms. Add a little water if the mixture is too dry. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

When the rice is cooked, add the chicken mixture to the top of the rice, as well as salt fish. Cook for a further 10 minutes.


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