Claypot Chicken with Basmati Rice (& additional notes)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Since I discovered that one can make good Claypot Chicken Rice at home in real claypots with great results, I have cooked this many times. I have stopped using the rice cooker to make this pot dish.

It needs only a few ingredients.
It is quick to make.
And it is relatively cheap.

It comes in handy for evenings when dinner was not planned in advance as there is always some chicken and lup cheong (Chinese sausages) around. I have frozen chicken in my fridge which I can quickly and easily defrost using my Sous Vide gadget (the microwave tends to cook some parts). Frozen chicken thaws quickly when submerged in hot water (Just remember not to leave it in there for too long to avoid spread of pathogens).

Wounded bottoms but still holding up
First off, I should say that I am very happy with these wired claypots. Their bottoms have been set on fire many times but they have not leaked yet, at least not to the point of being unusable. Even though cracklines have appeared, they are holding up well. And to let you know, I have not bothered to pre-soak them in water and all that jazz.

They are small enough to fit into all the stoves stations. The feed 2-3 pax comfortably and up to 4 if some diners have smaller appetites. I normally cook at least two and it gives me the option of keeping one warm while my family or guests get to the first. These are perfect claypots for me.

Bottoms up! :)  

As for rice, the long Thai Jasmine rice will work well. It is also most twice the price of cheaper rice but unless you are on a tight budget, spend on good quality rice as this is the star of this dish, not the chicken. I tried Basmati rice recently (photo above & lead photo) and they turned out fluffy and with nicely separated grains. They also carry the sauce well, which means more flavours.

The rice:water ratio of 1:1.1 works perfectly most times. If you wash your rice beforehand, remember that some water is now in the rice and all you need now is to add 1 to 1 water ratio. Get this first stage right i.e rice perfectly cooked and the later stages will be a breeze. Using stock you make from chicken bones will be the best but if not, commercial liquid concentrates will work too. if you have no chicken stock in your home, going with just water will be fine too.

Burnt Rice - this batch uses the Thai Jasmine Rice
It is also easy to make "fan chiew" or burnt rice with these claypots. What has surprised me is how much my Mama and Dad-in-law love the burnt rice. Apparently, during the Japanese occupation, burnt rice was a staple diet for many. Such was the poverty that burnt rice - leftovers from claypots that were used to cook rice - were sold separately in stacks. There were ready buyers who could only afford this form of carbo intake. Those who ate it regularly have grown to love it. This may explain why some of the seniors in my home love them so much.
 "Apparently, during the Japanese occupation,
burnt rice was a staple diet for many."
This is an interesting dish in that the star of the dish is not the chicken but the rice. Cook rightly, and when eaten straight off the steaming claypot, every mouthful is a satisfying experience.

Mui Heong Ham Yee
Sometimes I add salted fish. The best type for this dish is Mui Heong ham yee (salted Mackeral). It has a special fragrance. Just lay a whole piece on top of the chicken and cook it together.

Keeping the chicken moist is important. If it is dry, this is because it is overcooked. So, I have found that if you cut the chicken in smaller or flatter pieces, you don't even need to fry them beforehand. 10-15 minutes in the hot claypot (of this size w two cups of rice) will cook it just nice.      

If you have yet to try cook this, give this a try. You will be surprised how easy it is and it should be a regular dish on your family dinner table.

A potful of basmati rice..though you can see none of that here

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  1. Wonder if it works with calrose rice which is good for making porridge.

    I have yet to find claypots which are wired. Been searching in TP, AMK, Chong Pang City but zilch. Sia Huat has only huge sizes. Pray can sic where did you get yours? Thanks.

    1. Beauty World 2nd or 3rd storey, there is a huge homeware shop at the corner. They should have these.

    2. I mean, beauty world Complex at Upper Bukit Timah

  2. Thanks. It is on the 2nd floor of Beauty World Centre but unfortunately there were only one misshapen and slightly chipped left. The lady said she will have more stocks coming. She added "dunno why suddenly so many people buying" Haha I think your readers are the ones buying.
    Mui Heong salt fish disintegrate easily. For frying it is better to use ikan danau ( the one which is commonly fried with bean sprouts)
    There was this stall in Kuantan selling really yummy clay pot chicken rice. The mui Heong salt fish came separately in a small sauce dish. Not sure if it was steamed separately but it was inside the pot of rice with the sauce dish. When the cover was lifted the aroma of the rice and salted was heavenly.

    1. That's a great idea, steam the MH salted fish in a separate sauce plate in the claypot. Yes they disintegrate easily. Agree that there is no point frying them separately. Steamed is still the claypot will be convenient and adds to the fragrance of the rice

      I hope the seller will bring in new stock and won't raise the price :) Paid $6 for it

  3. What does the wire do for the claypot? I cannot really tell looking at your photos.

  4. I think the wire help to hold the pot together, reinforce its strength esp a s it expand under high heat. It may also help to distribute the heat. Even if u can't get wired pots, not difficult to wire it yrself

  5. Manage to get the smaller ones in Novena. They are only $3.90 each.

  6. I cooked the dish yesterday in my unwired claypot, and it turned out beautifully. I had used Thai jasmine rice, but will attempt with basmati next. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    I meant to take photos, but was so excited to taste the outcome that only halfway through the meal did I realise that I had forgotten.

    1. Glad it worked out for you. Remember to take photos the next time round :)

  7. Where can we purchase the mui heong ham yee in Singapore? Thanks.