I love Claypot rice.
Really, what’s there not to love about rice boiled with hacked–up pieces of preserved sausages and chicken over roaring (hopefully charcoal) fire? Oh and it comes with a dash of greens for colour.
Like the Hong Kong side of my parentage, I believe that the best ones are those where the fat and oil from the meats permeate deeply into the rice to fill each grain with bursting oily goodness. And you know you’ve got a winner, if it doesn’t feel like you’re swallowing, well…, oil after a while.
But the difference maker lies in the rice. Each grain must be chewy, sweet, and not too hard. And the saltiness from the preserved sausages should somehow coat the rice.
A no-brainer. After all, it is mostly rice.
But the best part is the burnt shell of rice at the bottom of the claypot. It’s charred, crunchy, crispy and perfect with the chicken pieces – if there any left by now. I’m guilty of scraping away at the bottom to get every rice flake. It’s worth the price of elbow grease and carcinogens.
What’s annoying is the waiting time. Each pot can take up to 15 minutes to get properly cooked – an eternity in hawker centres.
But it’s true that good things come to those who wait. Because if it takes less time, it wouldn’t be properly cooked or they’ve cut corners. I’ve seen cooks who used precooked rice and heated it together with bits of ingredients.
So kick back, down a few bottles Singha while the pots bubble and rattle above the fire, and wait for it to come with a little Zen appreciation.
You’ll thank the rice gods for it.
Claypot rice costs $5-$20. Side dishes include soups and vegetables.
Try them at most established hawker centres:
- Yuan Fa Wa Bao Fan (#02-222 Chinatown Food Centre, 335 Smith Street Singapore 050335)
- Yew Chuan Claypot Rice (#B1-56 Golden Mile Food Centre 505 Beach Road Singapore 199583)