Spare Ribs Claypot rice (cast iron cooking)
It’s about winter but in Hong Kong, a shirt is just enough because it’s warm and sunny during day time. However it’s getting colder after dusk and it’s the season Cantonese having clay pot rice. Clay pot rice is a famous rice dish in Southern China such as Canton Province, or Cantonese regions worldwide. Rice is cooked in clay pot, with crispy rice crust at the bottom, topped with Cantonese/Chinese sausage, shiitake mushroom and chicken, pork spare ribs, sliced pork or beef, beefcake, or mix-and-match. I used to live and work in Guangzhou where Cantonese food is originated and there were restaurants serving local good food just around the corner from my apartment. Among them, there was a clay pot rice restaurant that I kept going at least once a week after work! Who could resist a pot of hearty and convenient rice after a busy day in wintertime.
Since I have paid more attention to my health and focused more on home-cooking in recent years, I would prefer to make clay pot rice home. You may have noticed I like to use cast iron skillet or casserole. Cantonese clay pot rice is surely made in small clay pot. However, due the induction hob installed in my open kitchen, cast-iron pot is the better choice. It produces softer, cooked-thoroughly rice with evenly crispy rice crust without too much cooking experience. And I think for most of my readers, clay pot isn’t your essential cooking utensil.
The recipe below is rice with spare ribs, which I make often. I have shared some before, including the technique to steam rice in cast iron casserole, so I don’t explain more in this post. Please read ‘How to cook steamed rice with cast iron pot’ if you know nothing about cooking rice in cast iron.
- For other recipes –
Ingredients – for 1 serving
- Rice, 100g. I use Chinese medium white rice today, similar to Japanese rice. But usually Cantonese would prefer long grain white rice. For a healthier version, use long grain brown rice
- Pork spare ribs, 250g, you may also use chopped chicken or chicken thigh
- Garlic, 2 cloves
- Dried jujube date, 2, optional
- Goji berry, 1tbsp, optional
- Green onion, 1 stalk
- Light soy sauce, 2tbsp
- Cantonese rice wine, 1tsp, or any Chinese cooking wine
- Salt, 1/2tsp
- Sugar, 1tsp
- Cornstarch, 1tsp
- Water, 250g
- Bok-choy, a bunch, or any leafy green vegetable
How to do –
- Ribs chopped to bite size, you may ask you butcher to help; in a mixing bowl, put in ribs, sliced garlic, 1tbsp of soy sauce, 1tsp of cooking wine, 1tsp of sugar, 1/2 of salt, and 1tsp of cornstarch, mix well and if you can wait, marinade for at least half an hour, but that’s fine;
2. Rice rinsed in water to remove excess starch, drained;
Line the iron pot with a thin layer of cooking oil;
Put the rice in the pot, pour in 250ml of water. The pot is with a heavy and sealed lid so there’s no need to add in too much water. But the absorption of water of different types of rice is varied. I strongly suggest you to try multiple times to find out the best texture you like;
Lid on, bring to boil then turn down to low heat, steam for 5-10 minutes till rice is almost set but still very moist;
3. Goji berries and date washed, date cored and quartered, mix in the ribs. My family like to mix in these two healthy ingredients, but it’s fine if you don’t have them;
Put the ribs on top of the rice, lid on and keep low heat, steam for at least 15 more minutes then ribs should be cooked;
4. If you want rice crust, turn up to medium heat, and pay attention closely, once you can smell a hint of charcoal smell, turn off the heat but don’t serve right away. Let the rice rest for at least 10 minutes with lid on so that the moist and flavour could retain into the rice and it’s easier to remove the rice crust from the pot bottom;
5. Sprinkle a pinch of finely chopped green onion on and served with poached bok-choy or stir-fried garlicky bok-choy; sprinkle a few more drops of light soy sauce on then serve hot.