I picked up a clay pot with my folks at my local Chinese supermarket over a year ago. It has been sat in the cupboard all this time. There have been many cold wintry days since and many times I have thought of eating clay pot rice. It’s a filling savoury dish, again something we grew up with.
I just haven’t found the time. I decided a year ago to take things easy but somehow the year got intensely busy, not least for our 2 trips overseas before April. We had a lovely first summer school holiday with a couple of camping trips to our usual Sennen, Cornwall but also up to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Both were nicely captured in eldest’s scrapbook, school holiday homework.
Somehow life became busy after Summer especially in work. I wanted to slow down but this didn’t happen and somehow I tried to take on more. The decision was made for me to stop. Although somewhat frustrating at the time it was definitely the best thing and so I’ve gone back to a steady position. It’s satisfying to be able to have tasks completed at the day’s end and sometimes finish early.
Having stepped away from clinical management I’ve had the opportunity to reconsider my non-clinical interests. In work, I’m still taking the liberty in considering whilst the clinical work fills my time. What has come up is the slow simmering development of my Cantonese.
My folks, being of Hong Kong origin speak Cantonese which we grew up with. Having been schooled in England I am more at ease with English, and my folks made the decision to not push us to learn Cantonese at Sunday Chinese School. So my Cantonese is just simple with very basic conversation and I am totally unfamiliar with the script. I have wanted to learn since medical studies reached some conclusion after graduating from medical school, however there followed membership exams and then a Masters.
There was a year or so after membership exams and before marriage when I went along to evening Mandarin classes, and then to Sunday Cantonese lessons for adult learners. Both did not give me the fulfilment I have been after in terms of developing my Cantonese, for obvious reasons in Mandarin classes and for the mixed abilities and backgrounds in the Cantonese class. In recent years the toil of children have added to if not taken all my physical and mental efforts.
It was with increasing guilt in not being able to provide the Cantonese language education and with eldest reaching a comfortable pace with his learning at school that I decided to try him with Sunday lessons. I was pleased that parents were welcome to join the class too. It’s nice to step back into the classroom as a pupil and learning Cantonese has been pretty fun. It’s certainly given me more confidence to help kiddies practice at home.
Spring is here, Little Bird Sits on a Tree and Sings
With the interest there, it will happen eventually, likewise with Clay Pot Rice. The dish is usually cooked over a slow flame on a hob, but I decided to adapt it with a slow oven bake. It worked out well.
Clay Pot Rice
1 1/2 rice bowls of rice (we have jasmine fragrant rice)
1/2 rice bowl of glutinous rice
Water to cover
3 slices of ginger, peeled
4-5 dried shitake mushrooms (rehydrated and sliced)
2 lap cheung sausages
1 stick of lap yuk (Chinese cured, air dried pork belly)
4 skinned and boned chicken thighs
Dark and light soy sauce
Spring Onions to garnish
1. Wash the rice (both) in the Clay pot, in plenty of water until water runs clear
2. Cover the rice with more water 2cm above the rice
3. Allow to sit for an hour or two
4. Cut chicken into 2cm chunks then marinade in 1 tablespoons each dark and light soy, rice wine, sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of sugar
5. Place ginger, lap cheong, lap yuk, shitake mushrooms and chicken on top of the rice
6. Cover the Clay Pot with it’s lid and bake in the oven GM3 for 3 hours until rice is cooked through
7. Before serving, thinly slice the lap cheong and lap yuk and place on top of the rice loosened with a spatula. Sprinkle over some fresh shredded Spring Onions.
8. Serve with steamed Bak Choi or Choi Sum greens.
Any left over is delicious heated up in a non-stick frying pan.