Tuesday, 25 June 2019

#ewew cooks Claypot Chicken Rice (Minus the Claypot)

I've always enjoyed eating Claypot Chicken Rice (my husband loves it) though I've also been weary of rumours (unfounded or not) that eating directly from a claypot cooked over charcoal flame or a gas burner isn't all that good for us.

But, alas, if there's a bigger turn off for me (when it comes to claypot chicken rice) is the smell of the claypot infusing into the rice that I get from some stalls (have you experienced that before or is my sense of smell and taste just too sensitive?).  It could either be due to the fact that the claypots aren't replaced promptly enough or not thoroughly cleaned to have that lingering smell.  Some of claypots have been so overused to the point that the hawkers use wires to bind over the cracks just to extend their usable life.  Mind you, I have eliminated claypot chicken rice stalls based on this reason alone...haha! :D

So, if I want to eat a healthier version, I guess I'll have to make it myself.  It seems simple enough since just three ingredients (besides rice) are needed.  Of course I knew I had to give up that crusty rice (at the bottom of the claypot) as you just can't achieve that with a rice cooker.  So, here's my home version of Claypot Chicken Rice (minus the claypot)...and minus the crusty bottom! ;)

You start by marinating about 450g of chicken pieces (I used choi yin kai or village chicken, skin removed) with thick dark soy (1 tsp), sweet soy (1 tsp), light soy (2 tbsp) and a dash of sesame oil.  If the marinade looks too dark, don't worry, it won't be later coz you'll be mixing that in with quite a lot of rice.  I normally marinate the chicken in the morning (and leave it in the fridge) if I intend to cook it for lunch.

For my home cooked version, I like to add a few slices of ginger and long stems of spring onions (which you can fish out later) for a bit more aromatics.  Sometimes I'd even add fried garlic or shallots if I have them.

Wash and cook 1 1/2 cups of rice and put it into the rice cooker to cook with just a tad less water than usual (as they'll be some liquid from the chicken and marinade).  I put in the marinated chicken pieces once I see the water almost fully absorbed by the rice grains.  If you missed that 'window of opportunity' and the rice has finished cooking, you can still put in the chicken at that point, not a problem.

Give it a really good stir to make sure your rice is well incorporated with the dark sauce from the chicken. This is also the window where you can tweak with a bit more thick dark soy if you find the rice needs a darker colour (mine needed another 1/2 tsp).   If the rice has finished cooking, press the cooker on again for a second time to ensure the chicken cooks properly (as we wouldn't want under-cooked chicken now, would we?).  

The key to a good claypot chicken rice is to complement the flavours with a piece of good quality salted fish (like mui heong) that's fragrant besides being just salty.  Most of the salted fish used by claypot chicken rice stalls are usually of a low quality and doesn't have that requisite fragrance.  I'm not sure how good a quality this piece of salted fish was but it cost me RM8 for this slice (and I used half of it though it could certainly do with the entire piece).

If you're using a fairly thick piece of salted fish (like the one here), put in on a sauce plate and add it to the rice cooker to steam when the chicken goes in as it'll need time to fully cook.  But if you're using just small bits of salted fish (like the miserable bits the stalls give), then you can put it in at the last minute (as they cook in no time).

When the chicken pieces are almost done (that's when the rice cooker finishes cooking for the second time which is about 10 minutes later in the case of my rice cooker), add (generous) slices of lap cheong (from 1 1/2 strips of Chinese dried sausage) and press the rice cooker on again (for the third time).  This is the other key to a good claypot chicken rice...lap cheong.  There was a time when I tapau-ed this but, to my horror when I opened it at home, I got someone's else order instead without lap cheong and it just wasn't the same.  I know of some people who dislike Chinese waxed sausages but I feel it's really needed to bring out that bit of fragrance and oil to the claypot chicken rice.  I suppose you could add some other waxed meat or liver sausages if you really wanted to.

Once the rice cooker finishes cooking for the third time, remove the spring onion stalks (and ginger slices if you can find them) as well as the salted fish.  Give it a final taste test and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Add more light soy if you find the rice not salty enough (it probably could do with another tablespoon, perhaps even two, but I refrained as I try to eat less salty food at home when I can).  Plus you also have to take into account the mashed salted fish that will be going into the rice later.

Finally, sprinkle in the chopped spring onions at the very last minute, finish with a dash of Chinese rice wine (optional but that's what I saw some hawkers did), give it a good stir and you're ready to serve.

Here's my home-cooked version of Claypot Chicken Rice (minus the claypot)...and minus the offensive claypot smell (that only I can detect?)....haha! ^_^

The best thing about a home-cooked version is that it's definitely no where near as oily as the ones we order outside.  That could be due to the less fatty nature of choy yin kai and because I removed the skin or perhaps the hawkers added oil in the marination of the chicken.

My bone of contention with ordered claypot chicken rice from hawkers has always been that it doesn't contain enough lap cheong to give the rice the fragrance it needs.  It's so coz good quality Chinese waxed sausages are expensive...and that's why they allow you to add more at a price (and my spouse will always want more).

Then the other thing my spouse would complain of not having enough is salted fish (sometimes you can't even see it if they've already been mixed in together with the rice).  That's why he'll always request to add extras and then not even getting good quality ones.  You can choose to serve your salted fish whole (in a piece that you can see!) or smashed and mixed into the rice.

Great eaten with some sliced red chillies or fiery cili api....or, better still, like how I would eat it at claypot chicken rice stalls, with a plate of oyster sauce sang choy (lettuce) and a bowl of double-boiled soup :)

If you can freeze rice, you can certainly freeze claypot chicken rice!  So, if there are extra servings or leftovers, freeze them to be eaten on another day.  When scooping up the leftovers, I found a bit of crusty rice at the bottom...yes, that can happen if you're not using a non-stick but a stainless steel inner pot (like mine).

In the end, I won't claim that this home-cooked claypot chicken rice is as good as the ones I eat at claypot chicken rice specialists but a version that you can easily make at home as it's one of those fast to cook, good to eat, one pot wonders! ^.^  And if you're not a fussy pot about the overall flavour, you can certainly take it literally and make it a one pot wonder by chucking everything in at one go into your rice cooker.

Good for 3 - 4 servings (as a one-dish meal)


  1. I do it the similar way too, learn from mom :D

  2. ahhh, now i'm craving claypot chicken rice - besides the extra lap cheong, which i'll pass to someone else (heheh), i wouldn't mind your version at all - add in an extra half-cooked egg on it, and it'll be a happy meal for me! it'd be nice to also get some of the smokiness of steaming-hot claypot rice if possible :)

    1. That's one of the good things about eating claypot chicken rice from a claypot, I stays steaming-hot for quite a while :)

  3. I am drooling at your claypot rice with all the generous ingredients! I am also a fan of salted fish inside. I love to eat the crispy burnt rice at the bottom as they won't harm me if I eat them twice a year.

    The Penang style would add a raw egg for extra aroma. When served, it would be half cooked egg. My wife made this claypot rice at home and refused to put any eggs as she says Kampar style is not like this. Hahaha

    1. Ai, I've never eaten it with a raw egg thrown in (didn't even know that it's possible). I've seen it more commonly in claypot loh shi fun. Huh, I don't even know there are Penang and Kampar versions to claypot chicken rice. :P

  4. This my dear, is my favorite! I can eat two servings lah heh..heh... It has been a long long time since I had claypot chicken rice from the hawkers as these are mostly sold in the evenings. I have cooked something like yours but slightly different method. I am going to try your method as it appears much simpler.

    I agree that lap cheong makes a world of difference and I would say it is a compulsory ingredient. And of course salted fish gives it that extra oomph though my mum has banned salted fish from her kitchen because it is reputedly carcinogenic. But consumption once in a while should be safe.

    That smell you mentioned that comes from the claypot, I believe it is due to improper washing. I have experienced that type of smell from those wooden bento boxes. Such a turn off! Oh, now I understand why they wrap those claypots with wire. I used to wonder hah..hah...

    1. Some will wrap the wires after the claypots crack while some (I was told) would wrap them before use (otherwise they will crack according to them). So, I don't know which is which but one thing it's certain, it's to extend the life of the claypot!

      I wasn't aware that salted fish is carcinogenic. I was told not to consume those soaked in oil or brine only. If that is the case, then processed meat that has been salted should also fall under the same category, no? Then what about people from some parts of the world where they've been curing and preserving fish with salt for ages and live long and healthy lives? Aiyah, these days, eat also die, don't eat also die! I believe in eating everything in moderation...hehe! ;)

      Yup, claypot chicken rice is usually sold at night. Too hot lah during day time. Hmmm, now I'm wondering how you cooked yours.

  5. I generally like the claypot because I like the bits around the edges that get caramelised - but maybe that is the part that would have the most taste of the pot that you're not so fond of.

    1. Oh, I like those crusty, caramelised bits too...and, no, they shouldn't be tasting/smelling of the claypot...haha! ;D

  6. I like claypot chicken rice too but I still cannot find a good one at my area :(
    I never experience the "claypot smell" that you mentioned or my tastebud is not as sensitive like you? LOL

    1. Thank your lucky stars that you have not experienced or encountered one with a "claypot smell"...yucks! >_<


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