Saturday, 5 February 2011

Claypot Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shiitake Mushrooms



Tucked away in the back of my kitchen cupboard, is a claypot, left by the landlord/previous owner of this flat. But it's the first time I'm looking at it with devious eyes, because it's Chinese New Year and I've got lap cheong from my roommate's mum.

Cooking rice in a claypot means that the rice gets slowly simmered in low heat, absorbing the delicious porky flavours of the sausage and the savouriness of the dried shrimps and mushrooms. The best part about claypot rice is the caramelised crust at the bottom, much like the Spanish paella. The crust gives the rice a hint of smokiness (of course, in the past, when this was done over a charcoal stove, I'm guessing that smoky flavour would be much more divine), and texture.

the prized crust

This is a Chinese cured sausage, called lap cheong, and is kind of like a sweet version of Italian salami or Spanish Chorizo. Its combination of sweet and saltiness adds a lot of dimension to the rest of the dish.

fyi, in that jar of unknown squidgy things, are marinated shiitake mushrooms.

Claypot Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shiitake Mushrooms
serves 4
Ingredients
2 cups of long grain brown rice, soaked overnight or longer (I ran out, so I had to use short grain, hence the stickier rice in the photos ): )
1 link of Chinese sausage, chopped diagonally into long coins.
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 handful of dried shrimps
2 stalks of spring onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cm piece of ginger, chopped finely
1 tsp olive oil + 1/2 tsp sesame oil

Marinade
2 tbsp good (naturally fermented/aged) light soy sauce
1 tbsp good oyster sauce (i.e. made of real oysters, not oyster flavouring, and without MSG)
1/2 tbsp Chinese rice wine (shaoxing/huadiao)
1 tsp sesame oil

To serve
dark thick soy sauce and sesame oil (to taste and very optional)

Method
1. The night before, soak your brown rice and shiitake mushrooms. 30 min later, slice the mushrooms and add the marinade ingredients to the mushroom-soaking water and let the mushrooms continue soaking up the flavourful liquid (that's a trick from my mum. usually recipes call for the chicken or whatever meat is being used to be marinated, but forget about these equally meaty and juicy mushrooms).
2. The next day, put the dried shrimps and some warm water into the claypot, for about 30 min.
3. Drain the rice and add the rice into the claypot. Drain the mushrooms too, but do not pour off the mushroom liquid! Add the liquid into the claypot.
4. Add enough water to just cover the rice by 1 cm. Now your rice is ready to cook in the shiitake and shrimp-infused stock! Place the claypot over medium heat on the stove, lid on, and allow it to slowly heat up. Watch it! Once it comes to the boil, reduce it to a simmer for 15 min.
5. Meanwhile, add the olive oil and sesame oil to a hot pan, and add in the chopped garlic, ginger and white parts of the spring onions. Saute till fragrant, then add the Chinese sausage, and saute till you see it ooze out some of its own fragrant oils. Add the drained mushrooms and cook for 3 min more.
6. 15 minutes should have passed. Open the lid, you should see the rice having holes on the surface. Spread the sausage and mushroom mixture over the top of the rice, close the lid, and let everything infuse and cook for 15 min more.
7. That's it, serve straight from the claypot, with the chopped green parts of the spring onions scattered over! (note be careful don't set the pot over a cold surface immediately, or it will crack)


To eat, dig your spoon in, mix it all up, and drizzle over as much of the dark soy-and-sesame-oil mixture as you want (that's how they do it in the claypot rice shops in Singapore. It's totally to taste, and I found I didn't have to add any because the rice was already so flavourful, but it's up to you!)


This is such a wonderful one-pot meal (though I will still have it with some vegetables at the side because I cannot do without eating something green, spring onions not enough). And of course, it's so convenient plus the claypot keeps the whole dish warm for a long time after serving. The flavour-infused fat from the Chinese sausage plus the shrimps and shiitake adds so much umami, and there's a wonderful contrast of savoury and sweet flavours, and fluffy and crunchy and springy (from the shiitake mushrooms!) textures.

Thank you landlord.

This is part of Malaysian Monday.

3 comments:

  1. Happy Chinese New Year! Rice claypot is something that I haven't tried to make b/c I don't have claypot and don't want to buy one as yet until I am confident enough to use it :) Your rice claypot looks divine! Love it! Oh btw my grandma used to make her own lap cheong, so good! Too bad she brought her recipe with her so nobody knows how to make it now :(

    Jos

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  2. I'm lucky the claypot came with the flat ;) Oh wow homemade lapcheong? Ah i believe mums/grandmums make the best food! That must have tasted divine!

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  3. This looks very appetitising, and I like how you describe the flavours! I haven't had claypot rice in ages! Today we had dinner at Pu Tien (quite famous Chinese restaurant)- the food is pretty good! :)

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