Claypot rice is a time consuming Southern Chinese dish to make. Often a wait of about 30 minutes is normal. The rice is baked in a claypot over low wood-fire heat before adding cooked ingredients such as diced chicken, pork, salted fish and lup cheong (Chinese sausages). The magic is in the aroma released by the burnt rice (like a good paella) below that permeates the rice and ingredients in the pot. The smokiness in this dish with bits of crusty burned edge rice is what you look out for. You drizzle some dark soy sauce and oils in before you mixed it all up and devour.
Eng’s Char Siew Wantan Mee
430 Upp Changi Rd #01-09, East Village (Map) 8am – 10pm Daily
Ah Ching hails from a famous claypot rice stall in Geylang, having worked for his former boss for over 20 years. He makes it seem simple – rice, water, charcoal fire, some Chinese sausage, salted fish, chicken chunks and roast it away in a claypot. But the rice he uses (old rice), the type of sausage (fat enough) and how smooth and well marinated the soy chicken is plus the breed of salted fish (mui heong) all adds up to the difference. The thin layer of roasted grains at the sides is created by tilting the pot every 10 minutes or so over the fire. This is truly a claypot rice master at work.
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice 335 Smith St #02-197, 198, 199, Chinatown Cplx Food Ctr (Map) 3.30pm – 9pm Thu
This is sited at a charming corner “window unit” and has an airy feel that overlooks the street buzz below. The sisters have been churning this out for decades, in a consistent robotic fashion, frommeasuring rice and water (without the need tomeasure) and releasing those ingredients like sesame soy chicken, salted fish bits, Chinese sausage etc. over the rice as it bakes in both gas and wood fire. The smoky aroma and the fan chiew (charred crispy rice edges) are endearing. You mash up the claypot rice of wonder, mash the soft "mui heong" salted fish and crispy rice well, tear in and experience this once peasant street dish from Guangzhou, China. Be warned, the wait time at peak hours can go up to 1 hour.
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