Claypots. They are just not meant for hawkers to use. Have you ever notice what the hawkers do with their claypots? They always reinforce it with some kind of metal wire. Why? Because most of them are cracked. Most of the hawkers who sell Claypot rice tell me that they usually discard their Claypots after only a few uses. It’s almost like a disposable cooking utensil! So here is the conundrum. Why did the Chinese invent such a useless cooking utensil which cracks so easily?
In order to increase the useful lifespan of their claypots, most Hawkers devise their own ways to reinforce their claypots. Now here’s another thought. Why don’t the claypot manufacturer’s simply just make claypots with the metal reinforcement already attached? Seems like the logical thing to do right?
Well, the short answer to this long question is that our Hawkers simply don’t use the claypots according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Not that there are instructions anyway).
The reason for the existence of the unglazed claypot is that it cooks food differently from a normal steel pot. You are supposed to soak it first so that water is absorbed into the porous clay. Then when you heat it GENTLY, the water in the clay turns to steam and steams the food in the claypot. It is meant to be used with gentle heat and with an adequate soaking in water before the next use!
Here herein lies the problem. Which hawker has the time to soak the claypot and cook the rice under gentle heat? Most people already complain about the minimum 20 minute wait to eat Claypot rice. So the solution is to turn up the heat and reinforce the pots with metal!
In case you don’t know it yet, the famous New Lucky Claypot Rice which used to be a Clementi “must eat” has relocated to Holland Drive not long ago. Now they occupy two whole stalls in the food centre. I have wanted to blog New Lucky since they were still at Clementi, but when I eventually got round to it, they have already moved to Holland Drive!
Like most good Claypot Rice places, the rice is cooked in the claypot itself. That, for me, is the minimum criteria for me to even order it. Some places cheat by assembling cooked rice plus ingredients in the claypot and just char the rice slightly inside of the claypot. Forget it. Might as well just order a plate of fried rice.
The other key ingredients are the marinade in the chicken, quality of the lup cheong (Chinese sausages), good salted fish flavour and most importantly, a great dark soy sauce. Of these, I would say that New Lucky scored highest on the quality of the lup cheong which had that wonderful floral fragrance which I thoroughly enjoyed. The chicken was cooked just right such that it was tender and juicy, but the marinade could have been a little more fragrant. I think they cut down on the amount of salted fish because people nowadays don’t want to eat too much of it. I would ask for more salted fish next time though. I was told that the dark soy sauce was a special blend from a few selected manufacturers which they have been using for many years. It was good but I can’t help but wish I had brought along my own bottle of one and a half year, naturally fermented Dark Soy Sauce from Kwong Woh Hing. 4/5
Good claypot rice with excellent lup cheong but I have this niggling feeling that it must have been better in the past. Any long time fans of this place who can attest to this?
New Lucky Claypot Rice