Best Claypot Rice: Recipe and where to find them
By KF Seetoh - Wednesday, May 20, 2015
It is a dish that’s slowly and surely fading from the food scene in Singapore. The few street food masters that still bother to cook it over wood fire and engulf the whole claypot of rice with that assuringly soft and natural fire, is few and far between these days. It’s just too much work and skill involved behind that 30-40minutes just to make a pot of this old school Chinese meal. And the number of customers in 24/7 rush hour Singapore who are still willing to wait that long for a meal these days.. well, you do the figuring.
But it is a beautiful rice meal. Specially aged grains with an calculated amount of water is slowly caressed with soft wood fire and mid-way through cooking, seasoned meats like chicken, pork, salted fish, wax duck, vegetables, Chinese meat and liver sausages are lowered in to cook. The bottom layer of roasted rice releases this heady aroma that will baked and smoke up the claypot of rice and ingredients. The result- an old fashioned claypot of softly aldente smoked rice sitting below a plethora of savoury, salty, sweet and crunchy ingredients.
Three places, at least, still offer up a hearty and diligent version (which means a 35 minutes wait at least).
1.Geylang Claypot Rice
The place that moved Anthony Bourdain in his Layover series. The grains are loose yet has a soft firmness with a distinct roasted rice aroma. They offer a host of side dishes like soft and steamed flowers crabs, double boiled soups and even a stewed duck with lotus root slices.
2.Yew Chuan Claypot Rice
The boss learnt his craft from the Geylang Claypot Rice folks for six years before setting up his own stall. There are less side dishes (bak kut teh and stewed pork with preserved vegetables) and the claypot rice is very similar to his mentor’s.
3.Lian He Bian ji
They pull the crowds in every night at their corner stall in Chinatown and the wait can be up to 45 minutes on a good night. The stall in manned or “womanned” by three sisters that are very diligent in their ways.
But if you like to make them, have a go with this basic home recipe..
300gms of chicken chunks (marinated overnight with oyster sauce (two tbsp), Chinese rice wine (two tbsp), sesame oil (3 tbsp) and half a tbsp of sugar.)
One whole Chinese meat and liver sausage (sliced)
Salted fish .. 100gms diced
Choy Sum or Bok Choy greens….. a hand bunch full.
Black soy sauce… about 4 tbsp
Cook rice with the water in covered claypot over very low fire (so as not to burn too quickly). After 10 minutes in, place the chicken, salted fish, and sausages and spread over the top of the rice. Cook for another 30 minutes. Then place the greens in for the last 5 minutes. Add black soy sauce, stir, serve and devour.
Note: you may have to adjust cooking time based on the strength of your stove fire. Keep it very low