Clay Pot Chicken Rice with Chinese Sausage

In this solo cooking adventure, Gary decided to dip into his childhood to come up with something that would be nostalgic and, more importantly, warming on a cold winter’s night.


Top left – rice in the clay pot. Top right – partially cooked chicken, Chinese sausage, mushrooms atop the rice. Bottom – fully cooked and stirred, ready for service.

Growing up in an Asian-American household with a heavier emphasis on the Asian half, our kitchen’s cabinets, counters, and even our oven stored a wide array of cooking vessels. On the counter, we had a rice cooker, a necessity in any Chinese home. In our oven, mom and dad kept their large blackened wok there simply because there was no other space large enough to put it.

[By the way, if your family also did this, let me know if they ever ruined something you were baking simply because they didn’t know and put the wok back into the oven without looking in. My parents once ruined a cheesecake I was baking by plopping the wok right on top of it. Awesome.]

In the cabinet next to the oven, was the clay pot – a light brown, fragile looking thing with metal wires around it. I know it’s fragile because I broke one as a child. If I had known then how inexpensive these things were, I might not have been so worried about upsetting my parents. Anyway, when we actually had a clay pot that wasn’t broken, the wonderful dishes that came out of it were tremendous – earthy (I might not have used that word when I was much younger), tasty, and browned despite the almost complete lack of oil/grease you would associate with foods browning. Something to do with the clay pot retaining a lot of heat basically turning it into an oven. The technical explanation doesn’t matter to me – all I need to know is that clay pot cooking rocks. With that in mind, I went to Chinatown to buy a clay pot ($8 in a restaurant supply store) and set out to replicate a favorite meal of mine – clay pot chicken with Chinese sausage.

Poking around the web, I found this recipe at Almost Bourdain and it provided me with the foundation of what I would end up making. The recipe called for the scallions to go in as a garnish at the end but I messed up and used it in the marinating process. It was a happy accident because I’m a big scallion fan and I think putting it in the marinade gave it a strong oniony flavor. The only other real difference was adding an extra sausage. In addition to the basic Chinese sausage, lap cheong, I also used one made of pork and duck liver. You’ll always be able to tell the two apart as the one with liver in it will be deep, dark brownish-red in color while the basic sausage will be a lighter red.


Dried shiitake mushrooms, Chinese pork and duck liver sausage, Chinese pork sausage.


Sausages, sliced on the bias, and sliced rehydrated shiitake mushrooms.

What I liked about this recipe, and basically any recipe calling for a clay pot, is its simplicity. All you do is prep a few meats and mushrooms and, with the exception of browning the chicken a bit (one minute or so) in a wok, all the cooking is done in the clay pot. Start to finish, this took just over an hour, thirty of those minutes spent rehydrating the dried mushrooms. When it’s done cooking, you have nicely browned chicken that have taken on some of the fat that melted out of the sausage and a nice textural contrast within the rice where top layer is fluffy and the crunchy bottom layer. Be sure you get all that rice stuck to the bottom of the pot – it’s a tasty treat.


Clay pot chicken rice with Chinese sausage, plated and ready to eat.

Clay Pot Chicken Rice with Chinese Sausage Recipe
(Adapted from Almost Bourdain)

Main Ingredients

  • 2 Chinese sausages (1 with duck liver, 1 without) – sliced on the bias
  • 4 chicken thighs – cut to bite size pieces
  • 6 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water until fully rehydrated (approximately 20-30 minutes)
  • 2 cups rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 stalks of scallion, chopped finely for garnish

Marinating Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 inch ginger, julienned
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp of pepper (white, preferably)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 stalk of scallion, chopped finely

Method

  1. Mix the chicken with all the marinating ingredient. Leave to marinate for at least half an hour.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and stir-fry marinated chicken meat for 1 minute. Add mushroom slices, sliced Chinese sausage. Dish out and put aside.
  3. Put the rice and chicken stock in the cold claypot and place it over medium heat with the lid on. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a low simmer, then leave the rice to steam for 15 minutes. The rice should be nearly cooked, with little holes in the flat surface.
  4. Spread the chicken mixture all over the top of the rice, and put the lid back on. Continue to steam over low heat for another 15 minutes, until the chicken is white and cooked through. Give it a few stirs and sprinkle the remaining scallions over the top and serve piping hot.

14 Comments

  1. i gotta say no, growing up i never had a something i was baking ruined by a parent trying to put away a pot. but i must pose some questions back to you gary: how many teenagers do you think are baking cheesecakes anyway? and did you consider yourself a “normal” kid? just wondering.

    1. @kate And I ask: why wouldn’t a teenager be baking a cheesecake?
      I did it once for a bake sale and once for a girl. I can’t remember which one got ruined by the wok. It wasn’t totally ruined, it was just shorter than I had intended it to be!

  2. From 1974 to 1979 the Vietnamese restaurant “Royal Cuisine” in Santa Monica made a similar dish. It was served right in the pot. Impossibly delicious. No sausage, but chicken, rice, black mushrooms, and I think a little greenery. The rice was suffused with flavors of mushroom, ginger, and more. The owner Helen was putting her husband through college. Her mother was in the kitchen, which was about four feet square. When hubby graduated the restaurant closed. I’ve never seen anything like it in Vietnamese restaurants (we have a lot of them) since. Thanks for your recipe and the memories it reawakened. Perhaps Helen came from a Chinese-Vietnamese community.

  3. Hey I chuckled out when you said your parent destroyed your cheesecake by putting the wok back inside the oven. Although I hardly bake at home, but my family does the same with the wok by putting it inside the oven. So chinese right? And your recipe sure was delicious. Does adding garlic to the marinade cause the result to be very garlicky?? And also I bought the sweet soy sauce that’s just for this clap pot meal

  4. My family and I eat at a little restaurant in Huntsville, AL called the Viet Hung. Wonderful clay pot dishes and huge bowls of steaming soup with fresh herbs and vegetables. The crispy rice at the bottom of the pot is amazing. So if you ever get to Huntsville, AL stop in to this restaurant, you will not regret it.

  5. Do you prepare the clay pot prior to use in any way? Submerging it in water, etc? Or do you just add the rice and chicken stock and place it right on the stove as is? THANKS!

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