This clay pot chicken rice is so addictive! After I developed this recipe, I was so hooked and couldn’t help but cook this dish every week. Beyond the greatness of the tender and moist chicken, the rice absorbs all the extract from the mushrooms and chicken grease, and is then seasoned with oyster sauce. It is SO good! My recipe teaches you the easiest way to create a super flavorful one-dish meal without a clay pot or rice cooker.
A brief introduction to Chinese clay pot cooking
Clay pot rice (煲仔饭, bao zai fan) originated from Cantonese cuisine, but is now becoming popular throughout China. The term generally refers to rice with marinated meat and vegetables, cooked in one pot, then drizzled with a flavorful sauce. A perfectly cooked claypot rice has a great flavor of all the ingredients, with nicely crisped rice on the bottom of the pot.
There are many types of clay pot rice, for example, pork ribs with black beans, Chinese sausage, salted fish, and even frog (unusual, but really delicious).
When cooking a perfect clay pot rice, the trickiest part is to control the heat so that all the ingredients are cooked perfectly at the same time. On the flip side, you might end up with uncooked rice on the top, burnt rice on the bottom, the rice ending up like porridge, or the meat not cooked through.
While I was doing research for this dish, I encountered two theories for cooking it. One theory is to cook everything together with the rice from the beginning, until cooked through (it is supposed to be the authentic way). The other theory is to cook the rice and meat separately. When the rice is half cooked, the meat and veggies are added to the rice.
My recipe uses the second approach.
The reasons behind this are:
- The chicken tastes better if browned first
- It is easier to control the doneness of the whole dish
- This method is more suitable for cooking without a clay pot or rice cooker.
Why this recipe
When I develop a recipe, I don’t sacrifice flavor in order to reduce the number of cooking steps. So you might find an easier clay pot chicken rice recipe than this one. But remember, sometimes you need to spend some time and energy to create a better flavor. I’ve tried my best to simplify the cooking process and reduce the total number of ingredients, while still achieving the best flavor. This way, you can:
– Cook it without a clay pot or rice cooker
– Learn all the tips to avoiding uncooked, soggy, or burnt rice
– Finish prep and cooking in less than 1 hour (including soaking the rice)
– Create a super tasty one-dish meal with relatively few ingredients
– Use the cooking video below to go through the cooking process in 5 minutes
Cooking notes (Very important, please read)
The doneness of the rice
– If you have a kitchen scale, please use it to measure the rice. Although 1 cup of rice can generally be converted to 210 grams (7.4 ounces), my measurement somehow ended up with 1 cup of rice equaling 230 grams (8.1 ounces) for the rice I used. If you’re using a measuring cup instead of a kitchen scale, it won’t cause any serious issues, but the rice might end up a bit softer.
– Adjust the amount of water according to the ingredients you’re using, because the ingredients themselves contain water and will add extra moisture to the rice. For example, if you add more green vegetables than called for in the recipe, you might want to slightly reduce the amount of water.
– Even if you measure everything, you might still need to adjust the amount of water according to the cooking results, because there are so many factors affecting the doneness of the rice. For example, the type of grain, the type of stove, and the cooking equipment used all have an impact.
What you can do
– Soak the rice for 30 minutes and drain. This is very important. It helps the rice cook through evenly.
– Use a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. It will hold and disperse heat better, so the rice will cook evenly.
– Use a gas stove if possible. After the rice is half cooked, you should immediately turn to lowest heat and cover the pot. If you’re using an electric stove, what you can do is turn another burner to low heat beforehand, and transfer the pot to the low heat slot after covering it.
In the end, I hope you won’t be scared away by this relatively long cooking note! If you try to cook this dish once, you’ll actually find that the cooking process is very easy and quick. Be prepared if the texture of the rice doesn’t come out perfectly the first time, though. If you have trouble with the doneness of the rice, please leave a note below and let me know your cooking process in detail, so I can help with troubleshooting.
And don’t forget to post a picture on my Facebook fan page if you cook this recipe. I’d love to see your work!
The Best Clay Pot Chicken Rice (鸡肉煲仔饭)
For the rice
- 1 cup (230 grams) raw white rice (short round) (*see footnote 1)
- 350 milliliters about 2 teaspoons less than 1 and 1/2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 15 (20 grams / 0.5 ounces) dried shiitake mushrooms (or 2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms)
For the sauce
- 3 cloves garlic , crushed
- 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups Chinese broccoli, baby bok choy or chopped broccoli (Optional)
For the Prep
- Rinse rice a few times and drain. Add water and mix. Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
- Rinse shiitake mushrooms. Place dried shiitake mushrooms in a medium sized bowl and add warm water to cover. Mix a few times so that the mushrooms are coated with water. Set aside and allow to rehydrate for about 20 minutes. (Slice fresh mushroom if you use it instead.)
- Combine chicken, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Blend in cornstarch and mix well by hand until chicken is evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature.
- When the shiitake mushrooms turn soft, carefully rinse mushrooms to remove any dirt. Drain and set aside.
- Drain rice and add into a medium sized dutch oven (or clay pot). Add 350 milliliters water. Add Heat over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil and mix well. Bring to a boil while stirring regularly, just like cooking risotto. Turn to medium heat. Continue to cook and stir, until the water is almost absorbed by the rice, about 5 minutes. Cover and simmer over lowest heat for 10 minutes.
- While simmering the rice, cook the chicken and mushrooms. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil into a nonstick skillet over medium high heat until warm. Add chicken and let it cook for 1 minute without stirring. Place the chicken so that you cook the skin side first, until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown, and the chicken is half cooked through. Turn to lowest heat. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- (Optional) Use a spoon to transfer the extra oil to a small bowl, until just a thin layer of oil remains in the skillet. If you use skinless chicken, skip this step.
- Turn back to medium high heat and add shiitake mushrooms. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- When the rice is ready (the water should be fully absorbed by now), arrange chicken, mushrooms, and Chinese broccoli on top of the rice. Cover and continue to simmer for 18-20 minutes (the longer you simmer, the more crispy the rice on the bottom will be). Be careful - you should move as quickly as you can, so the temperature of the rice won’t drop too much.
- While the rice is cooking, mix the oyster sauce with the sugar and garlic in a small bowl.
- When the rice is done, remove from heat and uncover. Drizzle oyster sauce on top immediately, while the rice is hot, and mix everything well with a spatula. I suggest you scrape the rice from the bottom while the pot is still warm. Otherwise, it will be a bit difficult to scoop out.
- Serve warm.
- If you have a kitchen scale, please use it to measure the rice. Although 1 cup of rice can generally be converted to 210 grams (7.4 ounces), my measurement somehow ended up with 1 cup of rice equaling 230 grams (8.1 ounces) for the rice I used. If you’re using a measuring cup instead of a kitchen scale, it won’t cause any serious issues, but the rice might end up a bit softer.
- Ask the butcher to chop the chicken leg-thigh portions into 4 to 5 pieces. Alternatively, you can use chicken drumsticks, boneless thigh, or wings. Chicken breast won’t work very well in this recipe.