Happiness in a Pot


Old-timers believe that rice tastes better when cooked in a claypot over a slow charcoal fire.

Throw in some meat and you’ve got a one-dish meal called “Claypot Rice.”

How it’s done is this: Just before the rice is cooked, marinated chicken pieces, silvers of salted fish (if desired) and slices of Chinese sausage are thrown in.

When the pot of rice is completely cooked, garnish with chopped scallion, drizzle in some vegetable oil and some good quality thick black soy sauce, then stir the whole thing up and serve.

Problem is it can be a pain to do this at home, as it’s quite a bit of work; that’s why when a claypot rice stall opened up in a coffee shop near my place recently, it really draws in the crowds!

If you are dining alone, or with another friend, and both are small eaters, a small pot which costs S$11/- will suffice. The S$16/- pot is good enough for three persons but if you and your friends have hearty appetites you can always order the S$20/- pot.

And if you still want to try cooking this at home, the recipe is relatively simple: just soak a cup of fragrant Thai rice in a cup of water in a claypot for an hour prior to cooking, put the pot on medium heat over a charcoal stove and bring it to boil. Put on top of the rice marinated chicken pieces, thin silvers of salted fish (this is optional as some people may not appreciate the taste and smell of salted fish), generous slices of Chinese sausage, then cover the pot, control the heat to low and let the pot simmer for another ten minutes. And voilà, you’ve got your own claypot rice! Garnish with scallion, pour in a little oil and black soy sauce, stir and serve. The picture above shows the claypot rice before the oil and soy sauce have been added. (It’s important to use the best quality, thick black soy sauce, the cheap, inferior quality ones are way too salty.)

Seems easy for some, but for me, I’ll just walk over to the coffee shop nearby and pay 11 bucks. No hassle, no preparation, no washing afterwards.

And the best part? I like the burnt rice that sticks to the sides and the bottom of the pot. I scrape this crust out with a ladle and enjoy the crunchy bits. Some restaurants selling claypot rice will pour clear chicken stock into the pot after most of the rice has been consumed, bring the whole concoction to a boil and the dish becomes a soupy rice broth complete with the crunchy bits of tasty burnt rice and ta-da! you’ve got yourself a two-course meal!

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