Heritage Chicken-rice Casserole

In 1989, when my mother and I returned to our ancestral village of Kaiping in China, we experienced many wonderful moments. Among the most memorable was when we were served this delightful home-style dish, one that recalled my own childhood. For Sunday lunch, if there were just the two of us at home, my mother would make this chicken-rice casserole. She could prepare it early in the morning and then go to the markets to shop.

I always found it deliciously satisfying. The rice would absorb all the chicken flavours, and we would finish with a broth thickened by the toasty rice scraps that clung to the bottom of the casserole.

It was simple, home-style fare at its best.

Ingredients

  • 300 g (10½ oz) short-grain white rice
  • 450 g (1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh ginger, to garnish
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded spring onions, to garnish

Method

Put the rice in a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized pot. Pour in enough water to cover the rice by about 2.5 cm (1 in.) Bring to the boil and continue to cook until half the water has evaporated. Reduce the heat to the lowest point possible and cover the pot tightly. Cook for 5 minutes.

Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and mix it with the soy sauces, rice wine, salt, pepper, sesame oil and cornflour.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, toss in the chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is browned. Then pour the entire contents of the wok into a colander set in a bowl and drain well. Now toss the chicken on top of the partially cooked rice, cover and continue to cook for 20 minutes.

Garnish the chicken and rice with the ginger and spring onions and serve at once.

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