Friends asked how I cook rice without electric rice cooker. For most Chinese or even Asian families, rice cooker must be the No.1 kitchen essential. But for those who don’t eat rice often, there is really no necessary to have one. Though I make steamed rice with rice cooker almost every day, sometimes, especially in cold winter time, I love to make rice with my cast iron casserole.
Clay-pot rice is one of Cantonese’s favourite winter food. Clay pot can not only keep the rice hot, but produce crispy rice crust at the pot bottom. When I was a kid, I craved for rice crust. However, there are difficulties in making steamed rice with clay pot for kitchen beginners – 1. Rice must be soaked in water for a few hours before cooking, otherwise it may not be cooked evenly; 2. You must be very cautious about the heat and time otherwise the bottom would be burnt easily; 3. Clay pot is easy to crack; 4. For those induction hob installed kitchens, clay pot isn’t adaptable.
There are advantages of cooking rice with cast iron, to name some – 1. There’s no need to soak the rice before cooking; 2. It produces soft and thoroughly cooked rice easily; 3. The rice was cooked perfectly with even golden brown crust at the bottom; 4. It only takes about half an hour cooking, quicker than electric rice cooker.
In this recipe, I made sun-dried duck thigh pot rice. These types of sun-dried meat or fish are significant autumn and winter produces in Cantonese regions worldwide, the mildly sweet pork sausage is most commonly seen. My family used to hang them windowsill in windy weather, though nowadays we prefer to store them in fridge. Also, for a more flavourful rice, I use vegetable stock instead of water. Anyway, those are unnecessary, for a pot of simple tastiness, what you need are RICE and WATER.
Read more of my pot rice recipes – Dinner in a pot, a cast iron pot recipe, Herby Chicken Pot Rice, Cantonese Dried Seafood and Dried Sausage Pot Rice, Salty Duck Egg and Meatcake Pot Rice, Cantonese Sausage Clay Pot Rice with Cast Iron Pot
Tips for choosing and maintaining cast iron
Choose your rice cooking iron pot in proper size. I would suggest 20cm or 22cm diameter is the perfect size for most family except that you have a big family. Also iron pot in these sizes are suitable in making stew, braise or soup.
I have 4 cast iron pans and pots for different cooking methods and their prizes vary. I use simple ways to maintain them and they all have been in good condition. If you want more professional suggestion, I believe there are tons more online, just google. Here are how I do –
1. Don’t cook food with too much acidity with cast iron in long time, such as to make tomato sauce, lemon jam, but a quick tomato soup would be just fine;
2. Better not wash cast iron with soak;
3. Use brush in natural material to remove stuck-on bits;
4. After cleaning, wipe with dry towel, then bake in high heat till totally dry;
5. Coat with a thin layer of cooking oil on interior surface;
6. Use as many as possible.