A blogger friend turned me on to this idea earlier in the year but I only got around to making this one-pot Chinese Chicken and Rice last week. I took my first bite and asked myself why the heck it took me so long to make it and why I didn’t think of it. You have got to try this recipe, especially, if like me, you are a fried rice junkie. But more importantly, because you can cook your Sunday lunch in one pot.
Regardless of which part of the world you live in, or where you are from, there are certain dishes that make an appearance on the weekly Sunday lunch table – fried rice, rice and peas, chicken curry, stew peas, soup, macaroni pie, roast beef, baked pork, chicken, among others. Because these dishes become staples, we are always looking for ways to tweak or jazz them up. Well, this one-pot chicken and rice dish is definitely another way to bring a Sunday favourite of vegetable fried rice with baked or pot roast chicken, to your family and friends this weekend.
Here’s what is happening with this dish – the marinade is pulling double duty: it is seasoning the meat, and, providing a flavour base stock to cook the rice and vegetables. This dish really stands out because after the first stage of cooking – browning the meat, the fond or brown bits stuck at the bottom of the pot add enormous, and deeper flavour, combined with the drippings from the chicken that sits atop the rice as it cooks. Apart from the flavour from the marinade, the rice and vegetables get cooked with that signature trio that forms the base for many Chinese dishes – ginger, garlic and hot pepper. This is a pot of chicken and rice to get excited about.
Several things to note:
● Season the chicken and let it marinate overnight. Do not try to skimp on this, the overnight marinate ensures deep penetration of the seasoning. Also, since the meat will finish cooking at the top of the rice, essentially steaming, it is necessary to be well seasoned. This is not really an extra step because we always season our meats overnight for Sunday lunch cooking.
● Cooking the chicken on top of the rice, ensures that the colour developed during the browning stage stays intact and attractive, and secondly, the juices of the chicken season and coat the rice as it cooks.
● Use boiling water to mix with the reserved marinade to cook the dish.
● This dish uses the absorption method to cook everything, therefore, the water to rice ratio has to be measured so that at the end of the cooking time, all the liquid is absorbed. For every cup of long-grain white rice, use 1 and ¼ to 1 and 1/3 cups of water; for every cup of parboiled rice, use 1½ cups water.
● Carrots and bora are the preferred vegetables when making Guyanese-style fried rice that is stir-fried. Those veggies can be used in this dish too, however, instead of bora, I opted for finely chopped pak choi (also known in Barbados as Chinese cabbage). Here’s why. Given the time it would take to cook the dish, the bora would be too soft and lose its rich green colour; with the pak choi, I
sprinkled it on top of the chicken for 10 minutes to steam when the pot was done cooking. The steam and heat from the rice cooked the pak choi perfectly when tossed together and it remained bright green when served immediately.
● If you want to add chopped sweet peppers – toss them in at the end of the resting time when the heat is turned off; they will steam and finish cooking when tossed with the hot rice.
This is definitely a one-pot dish that I will be making again, and again. Inspired by this, I am planning on experimenting with different flavours of marinades, spice combos and herb pastes. I want to make this with spare ribs instead of chicken and another version with lamb and jeera/cumin. Watch this space for a faux Biryani!
Ready to make this one-pot Chinese Chicken and Rice? Be sure to get some cool cucumbers, juicy tomatoes and crisp lettuce to accompany it. Very finely shredded cabbage is a welcome addition too.
One-pot Chinese Chicken & Rice
• 1 whole chicken (3 – 3½ pounds), jointed, breast quartered and back halved (if using)
• ¼ cup oyster sauce
• 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper or pepper sauce, to taste
• ¼ teaspoon fine table salt
• ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
• 4 tablespoons oil, plus extra
• 1 heaped cup finely chopped onions
• 1½ tablespoons finely minced ginger
• 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
• Minced hot pepper to taste
• 2 cups long grain white rice,rinsed/washed
• 1½ cups diced carrots
• ¾ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
• ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
• 2½ cups boiling water
• 1 large or 2 small heads of pak choi,chopped finely
• Thinly sliced scallions/green onions (white/purple and green parts)
1. Add the chicken, the seasoning sauces, salt and sesame oil to a zip bag or bowl and toss and mix well to coat. If using a zip bag, seal, place on a plate and refrigerate, is using a bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate or transfer to a zip bag and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator and bring up to room temperature.
2. In a large pot (6 -7 quart), add 4 tablespoons oil and place over medium high heat until very hot but not smoking. Working in batches, shake off the excess marinade and brown meat on both sides. Transfer to a bowl or platter and set aside. Repeat until all the chicken is browned. Reserve the marinade.
3. Add a couple tablespoons of oil to the pan if there is none or very little.
4. Add onions, garlic, ginger and hot pepper along with a sprinkling of salt, toss to mix, reduce heat to low and gently scrape the bottom of the pot to remove all the stuck on dark bits. Let aromatics cook until onions are soft.
5. Add the rice, raise heat to medium and toss with onion mixture and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
6. Add carrots, 5-spice powder and sesame oil and toss to mix.
7. Add marinade to boiling water, stir to mix and pour into the pot with the rice, stir well to mix. Let boil for 1 minute then taste for salt and add if needed.
8. Arrange the chicken in an even layer on top of rice and drizzle the drippings from the chicken over the chicken. Cover the pot tightly with the lid, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 25 minutes. At the end of the time, shut off the heat and leave the pot on the burner, raise the lid and quickly spread the pak choi in an even layer. Cover the lid tightly again and let rest covered for 12 minutes.
9. Remove lid and toss pak choi and chicken with rice; serve scattered with scallions.
• If you prefer, remove the skin from the chicken.
• Chicken thighs – skin/skinless, boned/bone-in alone can be used to make the dish.
• If using sweet peppers, add at direction # 8, the same time when adding the pak choi.