My mom used to make this Clay Pot Chicken Rice dish all the time. It was one of our staples. She would make a large portion, usually 6-8 cups of rice and a whole chicken, all in one single rice cooker. Each time, it would turned out perfectly. The rice was always flavorful and fluffy while the chicken was delightfully tender. Digging deep down to the bottom of the pot revealed a perfectly crispy layer of rice.
I often asked her the secret to getting the rice so perfectly cooked. Her response was always the same, “Don’t open the lid during cooking and for at least 10 minutes after the rice cooker turns off." That's easier said then done. When you hear the rice bubbling and the aroma of the chicken fills the room, it's nearly impossible to resist taking a peek. Trust me, your chances of success will increase tenfold if you follow her advice.
In my version of Clay Pot Chicken Rice, I scaled down mom's recipe to fit nicely into a traditional clay pot. I don’t have the need to feed a small army as mom did, just my family of 4. This recipe can easily be doubled and made in two separate pots to feed a larger family. If you don’t have a clay pot, a small Dutch oven or a sauce pan with a lid will do.
Ingredient Notes for Clay Pot Chicken Rice
There are a couple of ingredients in this dish that aren’t so common so I want to highlight them here: dried lily flowers and wood ear fungus. These ingredients aren't crucial so they can be left out (many recipes do), but they add interest and texture. To me, Clay Pot Chicken Rice isn’t the same without wood ear fungus and dried lily flowers so I encourage you to include them if you can.
Dried lily flowers - Dried lily flower buds are also known as "golden needle" or "huang hua" in Mandarin, which translates directly to "yellow flower." Unopened daylily flowers are picked then dried. The drying process imparts an earthy, fruity and flowery flavor with a slight tartness. A quick soak in warm water and it's ready to cook use. Dried lily flowers bring a lovely crunchy texture with a gentle tartness to any dish.
Wood ear mushrooms - Wood ear mushrooms are a fungi that grow on the bark of trees. They get their name from their appearance. They resemble wrinkly ears (yeah I know, not the most appetizing description). While it doesn't have much flavor on its own, wood ear mushrooms are another ingredient that adds a wonderful crunchy texture to any dish. You'll often find it in Hot and Sour Soup or a vegetarian dish called Buddha's Delight. As with the dried lily flower, wood ear fungus also come dried. A quick soak in warm water will reconstitute it.
How to Make Clay Pot Chicken Rice
1) Mix the SAUCE & MARINADE ingredients in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, add chicken, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, wood ear fungus, and lily flowers. Stir in half of the marinade and mix well. Allow it to marinate for 5-10 minutes. Set the remaining sauce aside for later use.
2) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom. Add the marinated ingredients in a single layer. Stir fry and allow the ingredients to lightly brown. No need to cook it all the way through, just a light browning is sufficient.
3) In a small clay pot or Dutch oven, add the rice and mushroom soaking liquid. Spread the rice evenly along the bottom. Bring the clay pot to a soft boil over medium heat.
4) Spoon the chicken mixture into the clay pot over the rice. Be sure to cover the entire surface so that no grains of rice are visible. This ensures the rice is cooked through.
5) Cover the clay pot and turn the heat down to low. Don't open the lid at any time during this step. After 18 minutes, turn off the heat and allow it to sit, covered for an additional 10 minutes.
6) To get the crispy bottom, remove the lid and turn the heat to medium-low. Leave it undisturbed for 5-10 minutes until the rice develops a golden crispy bottom. Drizzle on the remaining sauce from step 1 before serving.
- 2 boneless chicken thighs, cut into small chunks
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 inch knob of ginger, julienned
- 2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms, fully reconstituted by soaking in 1.5 cups of water overnight or hot water for 1 hour
- 3 pieces dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
- 10-15 pieces dried lily flowers, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
- 1 cup rice, rinsed and drained
Sauce & Marinade
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Combine all the ingredients for the SAUCE & MARINADE. Stir well and set aside.
- Remove the shiitake mushrooms from the water and give them a slight squeeze to remove excess water. Slice the mushrooms. Reserve the mushroom soaking liquid for later.
- Trim off the hard stem of the the wood ear mushrooms and slice. Cut the lily flowers in half.
- In a mixing bowl, add chicken, garlic, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms and lily flowers. Pour in half of the Sauce & Marinade (reserve the other half for later) and mix well. Allow it to marinate for 5-10 minutes.
- Put the rice into a small 7.5" clay pot or Dutch oven. Add the mushroom soaking liquid and evenly distribute the rice along the bottom of the pot.
- Heat the clay pot over medium heat and allow it to come to a soft boil.
- In the meantime, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add all the marinated ingredients in a single layer and stir fry until the ingredients are lightly browned. No need to cook everything all the way through. We just want to get some color and remove a bit of moisture.
- When the liquid in the clay pot reaches a boil, spoon the browned ingredients over the rice so that the rice is fully covered and no longer visible. This ensures the rice is evenly cooked through.
- Cover the clay pot and cook over low heat for 18 minutes. Don't open the lid during this time.
- When 18 minutes is up, turn off the heat and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid. The rice will continue to cook.
- To create a crispy bottom crust, remove the lid off the clay pot. Turn the heat to medium-low and allow it to slowly develop a golden crispy crust. This can take 5-10 minutes. Check the bottom periodically to make sure it doesn't burn.
- To serve, garnish with chopped scallions and a drizzle of the reserved Sauce & Marinade over the top to taste. Give it a good stir and enjoy!