Wednesday, October 8, 2008

For those who can't

Following on from the fantastic claypot rice I had in Melbourne recently, I was determined to recreate my version when I returned to Singapore. But sadly - my previous attempts at cooking rice in a claypot had failed miserably - I had ended up with overcooked, mushy rice at times and was unable to recreate the beautiful all important brown crust at the bottom of the claypot. And so, I fell back on my personal mantra - "Those who can, do... and those who can't, cheat".

The Cheat's Recipe to Claypot Chicken Rice

The Rice
3 cups Jasmine rice
Thumb sized ginger thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cooking oil

The Chicken
2 free range chicken breasts diced into chunks
1 clove garlic finely minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soya sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour

The Accompaniments
5 dried mushrooms roughly diced
5 fresh shitake mushrooms left whole
2 tablespoons sake

The sauce
2 tablespoons dark soya sauce
2 tablespoons light soya sauce
Dash of white pepper
1 clove garlic finely minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce

The Garnish
3 hard boiled eggs quartered
Finely chopped spring onions
1 red chilli de-seeded and finely sliced
Half spanish onion finely sliced

1. Cook rice in an electric rice cooker with slightly less water than you would normally (ie. a smidgen under the marker for three cups of rice in the rice cooker). Once cooked, remove lid and leave to cool. This is to ensure that the rice is firm to bite and fully cooked when steamed in the claypot with the sauce.
2. Marinate the chicken for at least 20 minutes. Then, in a claypot over a medium flame, stir fry with mushrooms for about 2 minutes. Deglaze claypot with mirin. Once this has been reduced, remove chicken and mushrooms from the claypot and set aside.
3. Add oil to the claypot and reduce to a small flame. Add sliced ginger and sautee briefly. Then add half of the rice into the pot, pressing it lightly into the base of the pot with a spatula. Line half of the chicken and mushrooms on top of the rice (I do this to prevent too much of the sauce that is poured over the rice from getting to the base of the pot and burning due to its sugar content).
4. Add the remaining rice to sandwich the chicken. Top with remaining chicken and mushroom mixture. Scatter hard boiled eggs on top.
5. Pour 3/4 of the sauce over the rice. Then cover the claypot with its lid and reduce the flame to the lowest possible. Leave to cook for 20 minutes.
6. Remove lid and add remaining sauce and garnishing. You should achieve a beautiful brown crust using this method and rice that is not overly mushy. Another example of why cheaters aren't aways losers.


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