Delicious claypot chicken rice
Claypot chicken rice is such a delicious one-pot meal. It is also wholesome as you get all your essential macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fibre – in one dish.
[Nov 2021: Post updated with new pictures, historical background, and an improved recipe to incorporate dried shrimps]
Our favourite claypot chicken rice in PJ
Our regular claypot chicken rice spot in PJ has to be Busy Corner in Damansara Jaya.
While the restaurant serve the traditional claypot chicken rice dish, we actually enjoy their Black Pepper Claypot Chicken Rice offering.
We love this dish as the addition of black pepper just works so well with the slightly charred rice, and sweetness of sliced onion. Besides chicken, they also serve black pepper beef claypot rice.
Claypot chicken rice history
So what is claypot chicken rice?
As the name implies, claypot chicken rice is a dish where rice is cooked in clay earthenware, typically over charcoal fire.
This cooking technique is said to have existed for thousand of years in ancient China, with unearthed claypots (pun unintended) dating to at least 5,000 years ago.
Originating from Guandong – it is believed that farmers would bring the earthenware to the fields, together with some rice, meat and seasoning. When it is time for lunch, they would cook the rice over charcoal fire and enjoy the meal at the fields.
This dish is now popular in Malaysia and Singapore thanks to migrating workers who introduced this dish centuries ago in Malaya.
This dish is also equally popular in Hong Kong, although the version served there differ slightly from the ones here due to different tastebuds and ingredients.
For one, the Chinese sausages are served whole in HK and they do not add any dark soy sauce to the dish.
What is claypot chicken rice?
So what makes claypot chicken rice so special?
There is really nothing fancy about this dish.
This meal is really for the working class – as Chinese coolies would enjoy this dish after a long day of work in Malaya many years ago. In fact, this dish is still popular with most office workers in KL and Singapore.
The ingredients used is simple. You have chicken as your main protein (as it is cheap and easily available), flavour enhancers in the form of Chinese sausages and salted fish, rice as the main carbs to fill the tummy, and the ubiquitous soy sauce as the main seasoning.
Pairs well with Chinese soup
Here in Malaysia, you’ll find claypot chicken rice served with steamed vegetables and double-boiled Chinese soup such as lotus root, old cucumber or watercress soup.
Hence, claypot chicken rice is always a complete meal with the two.
Check out some of our easy Chinese soup recipes below.
What makes the dish so delicious?
The taste of food cooked in earthenware is very special due to the porous nature of the pot.
These tiny holes allow for a bit of charcoal smoke to seep through – thus, adding subtle smokiness to the rice and ingredients.
Secondly, the clay earthenware retains heat amazingly well – hence, the rice will continue to cook and remain warm after it is taken out of the fire.
High heat is important to get that lovely charred rice bits at the bottom of the pot.
How is it cooked traditionally?
To cook claypot chicken rice the traditional way, fragrant rice is first pre-soaked in water for at least half an hour. This allows the rice to absorb moisture.
The rice is then added into the claypot with boiling water. It is then covered, and cooked over charcoal fire before the chicken, sausages and mushrooms are added. It is then covered again until the meat is cooked.
Finally, the sauces and salted fish are added before it is served to the diners. It is imperative that the diners mix the sauces and ingredients immediately before enjoying the dish.
What makes a good pot?
We absolutely love a good serving of claypot chicken rice!
If prepared well, the rice should have the perfect texture – firm but not undercooked, moist but not mushy. Hence, skills and experience are needed to ensure the right amount of water is added during the cooking process. It should also have bits of smoky, charred rice.
A good claypot chicken rice is absolutely tantalising with flavours coming from the mix of dark and light soy sauce, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine and sesame oil.
Chinese sausages, salted fish and shiitake mushrooms add fragrance to the dish.
Cooking with the pressure cooker
We enjoy cooking this dish with the pressure cooker as it is so easy, with minimal cleaning and preparation required.
While it doesn’t replicate the authentic smokiness of rice cooked in earthenware over charcoal fire, we still come back to this recipe as the pressure cooker actually locks in all the moisture and flavours into the rice!
In our opinion, the pressure cooker method also yields a very delicious pot of “claypot” chicken rice.
To get the bits of charred rice, we just need to let the rice sit for about 2-3 minutes in bake/sauté after the pressure cooking is done.
We have updated the recipe in Nov 2021 as we have added dried shrimps (海米 or he be in Hokkien), and water used to soak the dried Chinese mushroom for extra umami!
Here’s our key principles to cook this dish.
- We marinate the chicken first to make sure it is flavourful!
- Aromatics are key to the dish – the ginger, garlic, shallots and dried shrimps are the foundation for flavour depth!
- Do not dispose the water used to soak the Chinese mushrooms. As it is packed with umami, add it to the pot of rice.
- We used Jasmine rice for our recipe, which requites 1:1 ratio for water and rice. If you are adding the “mushroom water” from soaking the mushrooms, ensure the total water used in the pot is at 1:1 ratio to rice amount.
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Key steps in pictures
Claypot chicken rice [Pressure cooker recipe] V.2Course: Lunch, DinnerCuisine: Chinese, MalaysianDifficulty: Easy
Simple one-pot claypot chicken rice recipe for the Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker.
1.2kg of chicken, cut into pieces
3 cups uncooked Jasmine rice, rinsed
3-4 pieces of lap cheong (Chinese sausages) (optional)
3 cups of water/chicken stock
7 shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced (stems removed)
- Chicken marinade
5 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1.5 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
3-inch ginger, sliced thinly
6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
3 shallots, sliced thinly
2 tbsp dried shrimps, roughly cut
- Sauce for rice
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
Spring onion, chopped
2 tsp salted dry fish (optional)
- Marinade chicken
- Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Marinate chicken with the sauce and let it rest for at least 2 hours if possible.
- Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms. Remove the stems and cut the cap into 3-4 slices. Retain “mushroom water” used to soak the mushrooms.
- Fry aromatics
- Turn on Bake/Saute Mode for pressure cooker and add cooking oil. When it is hot enough, stir-fry ginger, garlic, and shallots until fragrant.
- Add the mushrooms and lap cheong, and fry until the sausage oil emerges. Add chicken pieces and fry until the chicken is no longer pink.
- Add the rice, “sauce for rice”, “mushroom water” and water. Ensure total volume of “mushroom water” and water is equivalent to 3 cups.
- Pressure cook
- Seal and set to Pressure Cooking Mode. For my model, I will pressure cook for 15 minutes. When done, let it sit for 5-8 minutes before releasing pressure manually.
- Open the lid and fluff rice. You may adjust with additional seasoning (salt, light soy sauce) if you like.
- Additional steps
- PRO-TIP: Turn on Bake/Saute Mode and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes to get the burned/charred bits of rice (that you get at the bottom of actual claypot rice).
- Garnish with spring onion and serve.
- I use white Jasmine rice for this recipe, which requires 1:1 ratio for water and rice. If you are adding the “mushroom water” from soaking the mushrooms, ensure the total water used in the pot is at 1:1 ratio to rice amount. Always adjust seasoning to taste at the end.