Monday, June 11, 2007

Sarawak Claypot Black Pepper Chicken Rice

My mother was not very adventurous in cooking or even eating. She was often quite afraid to try new things when she was younger. Perhaps this was because she was brought up in a very frugal Foochow family. Everything was home cooked, and every ingredient almost home grown.

When she married into my father's family, many things were new to her. Even though she was educated at a fairly good level of Junior Middle Three (which at that time was considered a good education , especially after the interruption and aftermath of the Japanese War, she was not as well exposed as those who furthered their education in Singapore, like my aunts. So iced cakes, brandies, whiskeys, and even a whole tea set were all very new to her. She thought these to be extremely western and "unnecessary" even.

So when the claypot dishes were introduced to our family, we were very thrilled that she was willing to give it a try. This kind of break through in the kitchen was very impressive to children. I cannot who had the first clay pot in our large extended family. But all of a sudden, we were given some dishes cooked in a claypot....And those were years and years ago. And it was in the 90's that claypot chicken rice, claypot mixed vegetables became common fare in Chinese restaurants in Sarawak.


1 Tbsp cooking oil
l small chicken chopped into medium sized or bite sized pieces
4 cm ginger, sliced finely
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
4 star anise seeds
1 Tbsp sugar
l small stick of cinnamon
1 Chinese bowl rice wine
4 Tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp ground Sarawak black pepper
4 stalks spring onions, thinly sliced, for garnishing


1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over high fire. Saute chicken in batches.
2. Transfer chicken into a claypot. Add ginger,star anise,cinnamon and garlic. Add sugar. Pour wine,black pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil over. Mix well.
3. Cover the claypot and simmer over low fire for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot with white rice.

(You don't have a clay pot? You don't have much time? Don't worry. A simple way of cooking this recipe is to put all the ingredients into a slow cooker and switch on. When you reach home from your day's work, a great dish of chicken is waiting for you.)

The claypot is an extra touch to cooking style. Some of the ingredients can be left out too. Have a go.

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