Claypot rice is something very special. I urge you to try it. This recipe is a slow cooked one, cooked until the rice is quite soft – not quite congee – just softer than your usual rice. Cooking it in a clay pot gives a special flavour and texture to the dish. You will really enjoy this.
I do love a good dipping sauce. Think – steamed vegetables, fried vegetables, dumplings, tofu, noodles, spring rolls, summer rolls, sizzling rice squares. The perfect sauce will lift your dish to new heights.
There are many varieties of dipping sauce, and the Japanese or Chinese style ones have their respective core set of ingredients. For Chinese it is soy, toasted sesame oil, Chinese vinegar perhaps, and some ginger and spring onions. Today’s dipping sauce is another variation on that theme. So very very good.
The sauce is perfect with these vegetable dumplings that I get from the Asian grocery in the freezer section – I put them in a flat pan with a little water and a little oil, and cover the pan. As the water simmers, the dumplings defrost and steam, and when the water evaporates they crisp on the bottom. Flip them over if you wish for a nice crispy top. They are also delicious steamed or even very gently microwaved.
Oh those nights in the various China Towns of the world, eating noodles and congee and salt and pepper tofu, and wonderful silky eggplants. Simple dishes are tasty and elegant, in a way that sometimes we forget. Paring back to basics gives such good dishes.
For this dish you will need a basic Ginger Scallion Sauce (we call them Spring Onions, but it doesn’t sound as good). The sauce is useful in the kitchen and is one of my pastes, purees, powders, stocks and sauces that commonly grace my quiet kitchen bench. It is useful in so many ways – into soups and broths it goes, over rice with some deep fried tofu and shredded vegetables, drizzled onto bok choy with or without noodles, smeared on sandwiches.
Once you have the sauce, all you need for this recipe is some noodles and some veg. That’s it. And variations are endless. Make it as simple or as fussy as you like.
Occasionally the urge for green vegetables hits, usually when you are tired, overworked, stressed or anxious. How wonderful a large plate of greens looks, smells and tastes at those times. Don’t worry, we have your back, try this kale dish. It combines the great Asian flavours of garlic, ginger, spring onions (scallions) and a little soy. Quick to make, it is just a few minutes from stove to table.
I have mentioned my ancient Chinese cookbook before, the one direct from the 1970’s, bright orange cover, published by Sunset, and absolutely falling apart now. It is held together with a bulldog clip. It is still available online, I see – leftover copies and second hand ones. It is not surprising, the recipes are great. Mostly non-veg, but with enough veg recipes for me to still want to keep it on my bookshelves – at least until I have cooked every one of the veg dishes.
Today’s dish is simple but delicious. Tofu in a mushroom sauce with either broccoli, beans or carrots. Delicious. I have replaced oyster sauce with miso – you might like to use a mushroom based vegetarian oyster sauce if you prefer.
Similar recipes include Korean Braised Tofu with Chilli-Soy-Sesame, Broccoli and Chickpeas with Orange Butter Sauce, Chinese Cold Cucumber, Green Beans with Garlic and Sesame, and Sizzling Rice Squares.
Green Beans – so fresh, crisp and inviting when fresh. This recipe comes from an old Chinese cooking book – it is probably 40 years old, but the recipes are incredibly good. It is an easy dish to whip up and is fragrant with the garlic and spring onions.
The green beans are first simmered in a vegetable stock, then briskly stir fried with the garlic and spring onions in some butter and oil. Then they are drizzled with Rice Vinegar and Sweet Soy. I like a bit of sesame oil at the end too.
Green Bean recipes include Freekeh with Green Beans, Walnuts and Tahini.
How inventive rice squares are. They are pretty easy to make, then their bland goodness is partnered with some flavoursome soups, broths or sauces. You have to admire cultures that waste little.
If sizzling rice squares are your thing, the rice squares are deep fried before placing in the soup or sauce – they sizzle when they are hot and really sizzle as they hit the liquid. They can also be used in any stir fried dish. We have our Asian brothers and sisters to thank for this easy and filling addition to simple meals.
We love to make these from scratch, but left over cooked rice can be used too. They make such a delicious afternoon snack.
Soy dressings are not something that I grew up with, my family being unadventurous food-wise, and county folk to boot. Integrating different ingredients into the daily routine was something that happened rarely, although I do remember my Mother being obsessed with Peppermint Essence. All our desserts tasted like toothpaste for months.
But soy dressings DO feature in our household, having inherited a foodie adventurous gene from somewhere in my line of ancestors. This salad, definitely Chinese, dresses finely chopped cucumber in soy, sesame, and rice vinegar. Use a white vinegar if you don’t have rice vinegar.
Quick pickles are very fashionable now, and why not! They are both tasty and healthy. This is a Chinese recipe that produces a lovely, sweet-sour quick pickle of cucumber. Leave it to soak and pickle in the vinegar mix while you make the rest of the meal, and it will be ready to serve when you are calling the family to the table.
Having a special clay Chinese cooking pot certainly turns the focus to congee – the pot (in my simple mind) adds something undefinable and delectable to the congee that is not achievable in other pots and pans. Today our congee is cooked with black glutinous rice. I mixed it with a little white rice this time, but it can be made without the white rice.
For more information on making Congee and Chinese Clay Pots, check this article.
Similar dishes include Scallion Claypot Rice, Black Rice with Curry Leaves and Tomatoes, Congee Bowls, Rice, Millet and Lentil Congee, Quinoa Congee with Tomatoes, and Red Rice and Adzuki Bean Congee.