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Claypot Chicken Rice

Claypot chicken rice is popular in many Asian countries, for example: Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, but I’ve always cheated with a rice cooker when making it at home. I’m so glad that Danielle of Bon Vivant—a gorgeous food blog with great writing, mouthwatering recipes and food photography—is sharing her claypot chicken rice recipe with us. Danielle is a Singaporean who lives in the bay area; I applaud her dedication and patience in preparing this claypot chicken rice. Check out her wonderful guest post below and don’t forget to hop over to Bon Vivant for more awesomeness. I’m very certain that you will like what you see on Bon Vivant!

There are so many wonderful ways to cook a meal these days—from the blink of a microwave to the meditative warmth of braising in an oven. Despite the array of ‘modern’ gadgets like the slow cooker, pressure cooker and the microwave, I must profess that I’m decidedly old school in owning none of these. On the contrary, I actually enjoy the waiting (and the work) involved with the slow cooking process. It’s like having front-row seats at the Evolution of Dinner; you’re witnessing the transformation of food from it’s raw, organic state into one capable of bringing you to gustatory heaven.

When I started cooking for myself, I appreciated the “quick weeknight” recipes found in the pages of any magazine. These were functional, utilitarian meals designed to satisfy hunger and send me off to bed for a good night’s rest. What I really looked forward to on the weekends though, was the time I could have to spend in the kitchen: I relished the four hours it took to transform perfectly smooth tomatoes into scabs of tomato confit and thought nothing of burying soft, plump pieces of cod in salt for a month for home-made bacalao. I loved having to plan for a meal, sometimes weeks in advance, savoring the prelude of daily preparations before the big show…

The ultimate goal of these seemingly unnecessary, laborious processes (in the face of modern appliances), was in coaxing out the real, true flavor of whatever was being prepared. Before I tasted my own, I tempted myself with the imagination, envisioning what the final dish would be like, aided by Thomas Keller’s poetic prose and suchlike. After the meal, the memory would linger, along with a satisfaction deepened by the knowledge that it was a meal that I felt I had truly worked for, in a manner so tangible, concrete and worlds apart from the conventional notion of ‘work’ that we subject ourselves to everyday.

So, in a tribute to slow-cooking and the primal, mouth-watering reactions borne out of wrestling with taunting aromas on an empty stomach, here’s a classic Chinese claypot dish, just the way my mother prepares it. It’s a breeze to put together and tastes absolutely delicious, but you’ll have to give it time, over low heat, to get there. Although traditionally cooked over a short and stocky charcoal stove and monitored with a hawk’s eye, you could also use a deep cast-iron pot over the stove or the always reliable rice cooker to do the job. You’ll just be missing out on the spirals of smoke that work its way into the claypot to augment the heady combination of rice wine and sesame oil for a deeper complexity on the palate.

The timings in this recipe were tailored for claypot use on a gas or an electric stove, so adjust the cooking time accordingly if you’re planning to cook this over a charcoal fire. Also, don’t fret if the ingredients at the base of the pot burn a little – these are actually the best bits of the dish, adding a satisfying crunch to every bite. You can read more about claypot cooking here and here.

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50 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Cecilia

    I love claypot chicken rice but never have the patience to make it at home. I tried once and the rice at the bottom of my claypot was so burned but the upper side was not cooked. I also like to add some salted fish on top of it. I love this dish. YUMMY!

  2. We LOVE claypot rice especially the crunchy part on the bottom. Seafood, chicken, beef all so yummy in this comfort dish. Thanks for sharing the great recipe. I have only made the Vietnamese style w/caramel sauce on the bottom-can’t wait to try this recipe.


  3. DailyChef

    I love claypots, and chicken rice too! Another great recipe :) I’ll try to find the time to make this over the weekend!

  4. I’ll have to consider getting a clay pot. They are a great cooking vessel and so rustic. FYI, Puerto Rican’s call the crunchy bit at the bottom of the pan pegao.

  5. claypot chicken rice is one of my all time favourite foods!! sadly though, the hawker stalls/food courts these days resort to ‘shortcuts’ when preparing this by cooking everything ready and just plop them into a claypot for a final heating up before serving :(
    time to get my own claypot! lol

  6. Is that water amount right? We tried making this tonight, and had some trouble. The water was not enough, so we put it another 2 C (which made it look right), which I think was too much – we declared it done after something like 45 minutes total, and the rice texture was not quite right. To be fair, I’ve always sucked at making rice on the stove, even using my magically fantastic Chinese sand pot.

    Now, that said, it was absolutely delicious enough that I really want to make it again and debug and adapt the recipe more to my taste!

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. kl_changs

    Looks fabulous! Thanks, Danielle.

    Would love to try out this recipe, even though I don’t have a claypot. Hope it works in my Le Creuset pot :P

    You mentioned that the heat should be low when u place the claypot on the hob. Is the heat turned even lower when you add the vege?

  8. Alex

    Hi, Bee
    Another excellent recipe in your site!
    I want to make it today or tomorrow, but I am really not sure about water/rice ratio. 3/4 cup of water to 1 1/4 cup of rice doesn’t seem to be right.

  9. My usual rice to water ratio is 5 ounces rice to 6 ounces (3/4 cup) water (147 grams rice to 170 grams water), and for this recipe, I halved the amount of water I usually use as I wanted to avoid overly-soggy rice in the final product. As a rough guide, the water level should match the level of rice when you pour it in. If the water is significantly higher than the rice level (such as when you cook in a rice cooker), then you’ve added too much.

    Danielle: 2 cups of water is too much for the amount of rice here. If you want to vary the amount of water, I’d suggest starting with 3/4 cup and adding more in stages up to a maximum of 1.5 cups. Try not to add too much at one go as it might make your rice too soggy and prevent the bottom layer of rice from crisping. Also, keep your heat as low as possible to gain more control over the cooking process. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

    kl_changs: If you’re using a Le Creuset for this, you won’t need to pre-heat your pot before adding the rice. I included that step for sand claypots as they’re susceptible to cracking when heated too quickly. For the vegetables, I turn the heat to low and let the residual heat from the pot and rice cook the greens.

    Alex: As I mentioned to Danielle, you could add up to a maximum of 1.5 cups of water for this amount of rice, but begin with 3/4 cup and add as you go. You will need to gauge how the rice is cooking for your pot and amount of heat to determine if more water should be added for the consistency that you’d like. Unlike the traditional way of cooking plain rice, the sesame oil and juices from the chicken and mushrooms also add moisture to the rice, hence my suggestion not to add too much water too quickly to avoid having an overly-soggy product.

    Thanks everyone for your comments and keep the questions coming!

    • Alex

      Hi, Danielle,
      Thank you for your prompt replay.
      It is definitely a go, I’ll make it this week, when I am done with my lamb and lentils curry.

  10. gina

    Thank you for this lovely recipe. We love chicken rice and this is another way of making it. Tried it last nite, not a grain left in the claypot…yummy!!
    I add the water, after the last frying process + seasoning, stir everything together then add the rice. So i have no worries that the flavours dont get to the dry rice. Wd appreciate, if you can give us the recipe for the chilli sauce that comes with chicken rice?
    More recipes please… :-)

  11. mlvn

    thanks for the recipe.the white claypot in the picture is totally out of this world.could u please tell me where to get it. thanks.

  12. Danielle, you made me laugh out loud (a term I use when people’s writing makes me laugh involuntarily, I love it.) I share your philosophy about quick weeknight dinners vs special or weekend cooking. I completely empathize with the planning and execution process – all part and parcel of the whole dinner, exhausting but so rewarding.

    My mom who was born in S’pore makes this dish for us too but uses sticky rice and choy sum. Must be her personal spin, so addictive. You’ve inspired me to make this dish but over a weekend, ha, ha.

  13. Esther

    Danielle, what is the purpose of the cornstarch used in the chicken? Or should it be corn flour?
    My water level matched the level of rice but my rice still turned out soggy. :(

  14. Gretch

    Just made this for lunch and it was absolutely fantastic! Thanks very much for sharing and I look forward to trying your other recipes :)

  15. kian ming

    i think your cooking is a bit slow which is 30 minutes slower than normal, and quite eloborate in terms of ingredients.. but nonetheless..thanks…

  16. Florence C

    Thank you for all of the recipes you’ve posted (and guests have posted :] )! I’ve been following your blog for a whole and absolutely love your little anecdotes and pictures. I just recently purchased a clay pot from a Japanese “dollar” store (Daiso) and was wondering what is a “hob?” I tried looking it up but could not find any results. Thanks!!

    • Peter Pantry Raider

      A hob is the flat top part of a cooking stove, or a separate flat surface, containing hotplates or burners. The kitchen stove tops that you see in the kitchen section of supermarkets are called gas hobs.

  17. HooiFong Chee

    I cooked this tonight.. about 1 1/2 portion from the recipes.. using rice cooker instead of claypot.. cause I don’t have one. it taste good..

  18. Safecook

    Wonderful! It looked so tempting; I wanted to cook it right away and tried it last night. It tasted fantastic. My family and I loved it. This one is going in my recipe book. I used my pure clay pot I got from mecware.US (online) to cook it and it was amazing. The unique far-infrared heat emitted from the walls of the pot let seasoning & spices penetrate deeper, giving you delicious food, perfectly cooked and healthy too, because it seals all the nutrients in the food. Here is the website I got my pure-clay pot from and also learnt the art of clay cooking.

  19. Fenny

    Wow,thanks for sharing,gonna try to make this for my kids now..btw may I know where to get that white ceramics pot with handle like on your picture above?so cute :)

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