Like an expert that is?
One of the best thing we ate last week was claypot rice at Old Mother Hen's in Geylang. The rice was cooked perfectly to a crisp at the bottom with a lingering charcoal smokiness. This version had a slight HK twist which is the addition of salted egg yolks, together with the salted fish and lap-cheong they ensured that each bite of rice is marvelously meaty and salty and rich. I liked too that the chicken pieces were well marinated and tender but not coated in slimy starch.
Another good thing then was the fact that the claypot rice is cooked in front of the restaurant, in plain sight of everyone walking by. This unusual placing probably helps to entice hesitant patrons inside, but to curious cooks like me it was time to pick up some tips. Someone places an order and the cook starts the process.
First, rice is cooked from scratch by boiling it with water in a covered claypot over a gas stove. Notice the fire is not particularly strong. It looks almost cooked after about 15 minutes. (Do not adjust your screen, the rice looks blurred because of the steam that arises from its surface).
The stuff that enriches and flavours and add depth are added next. Study the beautiful (and beautifully large) egg yolk and not-too-fatty lap-cheong. The fire is again, not too strong.
When the rice is cooked and the good stuff on top is steamed through the pot is tilted. This assists evaporation of excess water and begins the process of forming delicious rice crust.
More tilting and turning and drying. This time the pot gets transferred to a slow-burning charcoal stove. More waiting, claypot rice cannot be rushed.
Even the top layer is not spared. The entire pot is inverted for a final roasting.
Before serving, the rice is swirled with dark soya sauce, shallot oil and a final scatter of spring onions. There you have it. It takes about 20 minutes to cook, but the result is definitely worth the long wait.
Old Mother Hen Traditional Herbal Soup Restaurant
136 Sims Avenue (between Lorongs 17 & 19)