These days, apart from the usual house chores, a large amount of my time is taken in teaching my three children, as well as ferrying them around for activities and lessons. Hence, I find myself unwilling and (frankly) too tired to cook meals that have long preparation time or I have to be around to ‘watch the fire’. I try to do quick and simple stuff.
Tonight, I made this for our dinner because I spent the whole day outside with the kids. I could have settled for take-outs but I couldn’t bear the thought of another round of the usual hawker fare. Since I was out the whole day, I couldn’t prepare ahead and thaw ahead. By the time I reached home, I have nothing cut nor thawed and ready to use. I was also too tired to want to spent the rest of my afternoon toiling in the kitchen.
To sidetrack, here’s something I do to make cooking quicker : I pre-cut my meat. Laugh if you will but in my family, we mainly eat chicken breast meat. When I do marketing, I would buy a few pieces of breast meat and I will cut them into several forms (e.g. diced, large chunks) before freezing them. I will bag them in portions of half breast or whole breast.
So when I reached home this afternoon, I took out a bag of cut whole chicken breast to thaw. Cut meat thaws quickly. So before long, the meat was ready to use. It is the end of the week so I only had a bag of french beans left in the fridge. So that came out as well. French beans are easy to cleaned and cut compared to some leafy greens which you have to trim/pick and wash well to get rid of soil and grim.
With these two ingredients ready – and rice, of course; we are Chinese afterall – I created this quick and easy version of the traditional Chinese claypot rice. You know, the one that is cooked in a traditional claypot, with chicken and Chinese sausage. Except I used an electric rice cooker instead of cooking it in a claypot over the stove. I was too lazy to watch the fire.
2 cups Rice (uncooked)
1 whole Chicken Breast – you can use whatever part you like. You can marinate it too but the sauce that goes with this dish is enough seasoning for me, so I don’t marinate. Do not cut into too big pieces or else the chicken would not be cook through in the rice cooker.
3-4 Chinese sausage – no, western sausages are NOT the same and cannot replace this. However, you can use Chinese preserved duck leg/pork belly together with the sausages.
Handful Easy to cook veggies, washed cleaned and cut into smaller pieces – e.g Baby baicai (bakchoi). I know the amount is maddeningly ambiguous. You have to make the judgement call based on how much veggies you family eat and how big your rice cooker is. For baby bai cai, for instance, I would use about 3-4 bunches, but for Shanghai Green (which is bigger), probably 2-3. Cut into size that can go into your rice cooker. Do not use veggies that are hard to cook, e.g. Hong Kong kailan that has very thick stems.
1 part thick, dark soy sauce
1part Oyster sauce
Quarter part Sesame Oil (approximation)
2 part Hot water
1. Wash rice as per normal. Fill rice cooker with enough water to cook the rice. You will use the same amount of water as you would if you were cooking the rice normally. If you don’t know how to cook white rice, I suggest you google for instructions or refer to the instructions of the rice cooker user manual.
2. Add the chicken pieces to the rice. Lay the sausage and veggies on top of the rice/chicken mixture. Cook as per normal in the rice cooker.
3. When the rice is done, take the sausages out and slice them into thin slices diagonally. Take the veggies out and set aside.
4. To serve, place a portion of the rice and chicken meat onto a plate. Place a few sausage slices and some veggies at the side. Then drizzle some sauce over the rice.
1. If you are left with hard-to-cook veggies, or have to cook a large amount to satisfy your veggies-loving family, do not despair. Just do a stir-fry or steam/blanch them separately from the rice.
2. The amount as stated above is enough to feed my family of 2 adults + 3 kids.
3. Do not put in more than the capacity of your rice cooker. I once had a perfect disaster when my rice cooker mistakenly thought that there was a lot of rice to cook – the weight of the other ingredients throwing the sensor off – and didn’t cook the rice properly.