Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chinese Claypot Rice and Nutritional Soups

The New Lucky Claypot Rice stall
Rice, Chicken, Pork Sausage, Liver Sausage, and Salted Fish cooked in a claypot
Close up of Claypot Chicken Rice
Black Chicken Soup with Wolfberries, Red Dates and Dang Qui Herb
Braised Chicken Feet and Mushrooms In Dark Soya Sauce
Soup of White Fungus and Pork Ribs
Soup of Lotus Root, Red Dates and Pork Ribs
Chicken Feet and Peanuts Soup
Water Cress and Pork Ribs Soup
Prices for Claypot Rice: S$10= US$8.00
In a previous post on this Blog, I wrote about the joys of eating out in Singapore: the variety, the quality, the convenience- and how I have not cooked at home for three years: See http://www.fu-lu-shou.net/2010/11/affordable-eating-out-increases.html . This post offers another example of affordable, good food in Singapore. The New Lucky Claypot Rice restaurant is situated in Clementi, one of the suburbs of government-built apartments in the west of the island. Claypot Rice is its specialty, and as you can see from the signboard in the top image, it's a popular eating place with an off-peak minimum waiting time of 20-30 minutes and a peak hour waiting time of 50-60 minutes. That's because cooking Claypot Rice is a time-consuming process. It takes at least 20 minutes to cook the rice, chicken, sausage, salted fish in a claypot over a slow charcoal fire. Some other claypot rice stalls have gone commercial and taken a short cut by pre-cooking the rice, and using banks of gas-fired stoves. But the resulting claypot rice is disastrous! Such stalls may offer claypot rice at S$5.00, half the price of New Lucky's claypot rice, but lovers of good food will never go for it. Eating New Lucky's claypot rice is something to be experienced. The chicken, sweet pork sausage, liver sausage and salted fish combine with the slightly burnt rice to give off an aroma that is incomparable. When the rice is cooked the waiter will bring it to your table and open the claypot lid. While the smell is wafting out, you stir in the dark soya sauce and peanut oil to complete the dish. And to go with the claypot rice, New Lucky has an array of soups in line with the Chinese philosophy of using soup as nutritional balance. Thus, as you can see from above, we have soups with interesting ingredients:
Black Chicken Soup: A 'heaty' soup full of Yang (the male/positive element in Yin-Yang). With Dong Quai herb, red dates and Wolfberries. The Black Skinned chicken is a special breed that when boiled and the soup drunk, gives you strength and energy. I never could take this stuff. One bowl of it Black Chicken soup, and I get a sore throat. It is just too over-powering.
Braised Chicken Feet and Mushroom: This is like a stew and the gelatinous chicken feet contrasts well with the mushrooms' texture. Chicken feet also supposed to be good for health though I have forgotten why. The dark soya sauce gravy has the smell of Cinnamon, Clove and Star Anis.
White Fungus and Pork Ribs: Don't know the proper name of the white fungus, but it has no taste. The texture reminds me of jelly fish. The pork ribs are only for making the soup tasty; as in all the other soups below. Usually the ribs are not eaten and all the nutrition has gone into the soup. The white fungus is for cleansing (detoxifying) your body.
Lotus Root, Red Dates and Pork Ribs soup- Another cooling and cleansing soup for hot weather. Lotus root is tasteless but crunchy. Red Dates are not from the Arabian dates palm, but the fruit of a deciduous shrub found in China. Red Dates, enhances what the effect of whatever Chinese herbs is used for the soup.
Chicken Feet with Peanuts: This soup is supposed to be good for people who have weak legs. Anyway the peanuts are a nice taste complement to the chicken feet. What you get is a very tasty soup that seems to give an instant burst of energy.
Water Cress with Pork Ribs: My favorite soup for hot weather. After a while the water cress 'disintegrates', and all the goodness is in the soup. A tasty, almost sweet soup that really cools you down.
Except for the Black Chicken soup, all the soups are 'cooling' soups. That's because the claypot rice is a 'heaty' dish, that has absorbed the energy and heat of the charcoal fire used to cook it. The clay pot itself also plays a big part- try cooking this dish in an aluminum or steel dish and it just doesn't taste the same at all!.

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