This is a Chinese dish that’s very easy to prepare and can be served as a complete meal: rice cooked in a savoury sauce with meat pieces and spices. They are available in hawker stalls where there is usually a queue because of the way it is prepared, in individual servings cooked in a clay pot over a low fire. Clay pot rice is usually served as dinner. Most home cooks prepare this no-fuss rice dish with rice cooker, but the true taste of this dish lies with the fragrance an earthenware imparts when cooking the rice.
Clay Pot Rice Toppings
A medley of cured meat and vegetables topped on savoury rice. So, what’s in a clay pot rice?
The essentials will always be good quality, long-grain rice, Chinese sausages and the sauce. People have been adding other pieces that further adds to the flavour and texture. It can be served as simple as two toppings or as elaborate as adding beef, chicken and seafoods.
When cooking rice on earthenwares, it toasts a thin layer of rice on the bottom which is quite a treat when finishing up a bowl of this dish. It also adds a smokey fragrance which is signature to the dish.
Clay Pot or Rice Cooker
There is no debate on this. Cooking it in a clay pot will always give the right quality of the dish. However, the availability of the clay pot is often an issue.
You can easily buy sand clay pots in the market, the kind with the wires on its exterior, at a cheap price. If you are serious in creating authentic clay pot rice, this is already a good investment as cooking the dish yourself will give you the freedom of selecting the toppings.
Preparing the Clay Pot
Earthenwares are sensitive to temperature and can easily break whenever there are sudden changes in temperature. It is also necessary to ‘prepare’ them before use so they can last longer than ones that were not ‘prepared’.
It’s easy to prepare one and there are methods that can be easily found on the internet. However, one simple way to do this is to soak the clay pot including the lid in water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. For those clay pots that are porous (no glaze on the interior), boil water in low fire for another 30 minutes.
Try not to cook any dish with intense flavour like curries during the first use as these pots are usually porous and will retain any fragrance or taste of the initial dish.