I love a good chicken. Whether it is pollo a brassa from Peru, poulet from France, or straight out of the tandoor in Mumbai, I simply cannot get enough of these little mother cluckers. It must be said that Indonesia has some pretty amazing chicken dishes, too, including one of my favourites Ayam Tulang Lunak. However, having spent so much time in Singapore over the years, it is nice that I can indulge in a classic dish from Straits Cuisine that DOESN’T contain crab(!) – and Claypot Chicken Rice is just the tonic!
Claypot Chicken Rice is a typical hawker meal that can be found all over Singapore. Although, unlike other hawker foods, I always found that Claypot Chicken Rice was slightly more upmarket, and this was reflected not only in price but also in prestige. Even Singaporeans must get tired of noodles every day, so a nice change to their evening supper would be a chicken dish, that is a more local version of the equally-popular Hainanese Chicken Rice. The difference between to the two is that the Hainan version from southern China is served on a play, whereas the Straits Cuisine version is obviously served up in a claypot, hence the name of the dish!
In my experience, it can take a while for the chicken and rice to be cooked, even at a hawker stall, and this is perhaps why it is not eaten every day. Still, if you’re prepared to wait for it to cook (maybe 15 minutes), then you will love the end result! The rice itself is simmered in the claypot, whereas the chicken and other ingredients, such as Chinese Sausage and assorted vegetables, are thrown in later.
Much like the dolsot bibimbap dish from Korea, Claypot Chicken Rice is served in a special dish – known in these parts as a claypot. This claypot had just been cooked over a charcoal stove, which is said to give the chicken and rice its distinctive heavy flavour, and my lips always begin salivating when I am called up to collect it from the hawker stall (sometimes I even get table service in a hawker, as I did at Balestier Food Court recently, but most of the time you get up yourself to collect).
With a Tiger Beer or a Tsingtao, Claypot Chicken Rice always goes down a treat, and the more charcoal you can taste, the better, as far as I’m concerned (think BBQ!). And who said you needed a Chili Crab to enjoy Singaporean food, eh?
Learn how to make this classic Singaporean dish yourself through this guide over at Omnivores Cookbook!