Monday, May 18, 2009

Claypot Rice (Improvised)

It was gloomy and grey all of yesterday. Add to the saddening events of the week before, and the only thing I wanted to do was to curl up in bed to do some navel gazing. But since I couldn't afford that luxury, I reckoned the next best thing would be to make myself some good ol' comfort food. Something piping hot. Something savoury. Something like claypot rice.

You know, there is something uplifting about eating hot food on a cold, depressing day. I remember being in the States some years back ... on the road ... cold and famished ... looking forward to the next pit stop, so that I could find some hot food ... to satiate my hunger and invigorate my fatigued senses.

Instead, what greeted me was nothing more than a sleepy Subway outlet amidst some hardware stores and a pharmacy. All my hopeful anticipation of tucking into hot, greasy grub was dashed. Woe betide me! The only hot item that came with my Subway meal was a sorry cup of dishwater tea. When I took my first bite of that cold, limp sandwich, I had an epiphany (cue dramatic drumroll):

Fire is indeed one of the greatest human discoveries ... EVER.

Anyway, I digress. As I was saying, I wanted some claypot rice to cheer me up. Problem was, I didn't have one. Desperate times called for desperate measures, so I improvised using my rice cooker instead. Obviously I couldn't achieve that caramelising effect - it was a non-stick cooker, for crying out loud. So, no crispy burnt rice at the bottom. Nevertheless, it met my criteria for comfort food: hot, hearty and something I could tuck into

My favourite part was the rice. It was drenched in savoury braising sauce and subtly perfumed by the slices of chinese sausage. Oh, what a delight! I could just eat the rice alone. Hmmm, maybe I should seriously consider getting myself a proper claypot ...

Arrange all the ingredients on top of the rice evenly before cooking

Claypot Rice
(serves 4)
- 8 chicken wings (cut at joint), marinated in dark sauce, soy sauce, hua tiao wine and sesame oil
- 1 chinese sausage, sliced thinly
- 1 handful pre-sliced dried mushrooms, soaked (I soaked -> discarded the water -> re-soaked, a total of 4 times to get rid of the pungent mushroom smell)
- 2 1/2 cups of raw rice grains (to be cooked in advance)
- Some minced garlic
- 1 pack quails' eggs (boiled and de-shelled)
*I know quails' eggs seem out of place, but they are very nutritious and I added them for the kids, since this was gonna be a one-dish meal.

Braising sauce
- 2 tbsp dark sauce
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- A dash of sesame oil
- A sliver of ginger
- 1 small lump of rock sugar
- 1 rice bowl of water

1. Cook the rice as you would normally. When cooked, open up the rice cooker and leave it to cool.

2. In a saucepan, bring the braising sauce to a boil. Add in the mushrooms and boil over a gentle flame for 15mins. Add in chicken wings and quails' eggs. After 30 mins, turn off the flame. Take out all the ingredients and leaving only the sauce.

3. Once the rice has cooled down, heat up some oil in a skillet. Add some minced garlic and fry briefly. Add in the rice and give a good stir to loosen up the grains. Pour half of the braising sauce in and coat all the grains thoroughly.

4. When the rice has been well-coated in sauce, put it back into the rice cooker. Arrange the ingredients on top of the rice, including the chinese sausage. Pour the remainder braising sauce over the rice and cook for another 5-8mins. Leave it in the cooker until ready to eat. Let the flavours infuse. 

Enjoy! I certainly did :)

14 comments:

  1. Thanks! I second that ;) Try it some time.

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  2. Hope you're feeling better! Your photos are so rich, the chinese sausage slices look like slices of garnet..... mmmm it's 12.34 and I'm hungry again.

    Can claypot rice be cooked with, say, fish?

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  3. Subway serves toasted subs nowadays ;)

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  4. Leon: Actually, salted fish is widely used in claypot rice. If you're referring to fresh fish, I haven't tried it, but this is what I would do - get fish fillets and cut into big chunks, fry them (to keep their shape) and then stirfry with dark sauce, spring onions, garlic, ginger and some rice wine. I will make a separate dark sauce to pour over the fish & rice for the last step. Hmmm ... now you've given me another experiment to try out! Hahaha!

    Tum Jiak: Good to know! Thanks for dropping by. What a cute name you've got ;)

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  5. Eh, an idea just popped into my head - considering the way claypot rice tastes..... wouldn't it go well with baked unagi?

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  6. Hmmm ... why not? Altho I am not a fan of unagi :(

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  7. Maybe you want to consider soaking your mushrooms in hot water instd of 'drowning' them 4 times! By the 4th time, your mushrms have actually lost their vitamins leh... I soak mine in hot water to soften and to 'cleanse' then just rinse one more time with normal temp water....try and see if there's still any smell? actually I never quite knew mushrms have pungent smell one meh?

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  8. Cheryl: Haha! That's a funny way to describe the soaking - 'drowning'! I dunno ... I always feel that dried chinese mushrooms smell very earthy and pungent, hence the need to drown them ;) ... for me, at least.

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  9. Try Mycofarm mushrooms. It costs a little more, but worth it. Locally grown (100-mile diet never caught on in Singapore eh?).

    www.mycofarm.com.sg

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  10. Tum Jiak: Thanks, my dear ;P Will try them since they come with your recommendation!

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  11. Someone taught me once to soak the mushrooms to soften, then "marinade" (re: coat) in cornflour, some pepper, salt and sesame oil, then steam for about 30mins or until they are cooked and soft. The result was surprising. It turned out to be easy to bite, with an almost almost melt in the mouth texture. And best of all they were just full of flavour.

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  12. Nonya Kim, thank you! I appreciate tips like these. Sounds easy, and I will most certainly try.

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  13. I haven't made any claypot rice since I changed my stove to an induction cooker. Missing claypot rice already!

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