Presentation! It's time to impress. Served in the same vessel it’s cooked in, clay pot rice (or bo zai fan) is absolutely stunning. But the beautiful clay pot is more than just for looks — it’s actually a big contributor to the amazing texture of the famous Cantonese dish. We're going to sneak some very helpful technique tips in this recipe, to make clay pot rice at home easier to pull off than you might think.
At first look, Chinese clay pot rice is a pretty simple dish: a layer of juicy meat or other toppings over rice, cooked and served in a pretty earthenware pot. That clay pot does more than sit pretty, though. Because of the clay material, it retains heat evenly, so everything inside steams together, helping their juices and flavors all combine harmoniously.
As a bonus (for some, this is arguably not a bonus, but the main reason to eat this dish in the first place), rice cooked in a clay pot develops a scorched crust, called 飯焦 faan6 ziu1 in Cantonese. Similar to the scorched rice in Korean stone pot bibimbap or Spanish paella, it's just shy of burnt and beautifully crunchy.
Clay pots: Choosing and caring for the traditional cookware
Unless you live in a bigger Chinese community, you may not have many choices when it comes to shopping for a traditional clay pot. If you do get choices (yay!), then note your personal preferences and needs: How many people do you usually cook for, so how big of a pot will you need? How big of a pot can you handle? Big ones can get heavy, and you'll have to store them somewhere.
Check for quality, like dangerously sharp edges. Be sure that it's not cracked; you can't cook with a cracked pot, or it will leak!
Proper care is important, too. Make sure you clean it with detergent after every use. Daddy Lau even puts it in the dishwasher. When you put it away, put the lid on askew so that air can circulate. When cooking, never put it on very direct or high heat. If you look through our recipe, it's always on medium or low heat.
Thank you, Kikkoman!
This recipe is brought to you in part by Kikkoman. My dad has been using Kikkoman flavors throughout his 50-year career as a chef, and it's a privilege to get to partner with them on such a recipe as iconic as clay pot rice!
- Kikkoman products are a major flavor enhancer and bring out the “umami” taste, and helps balance and round out flavors
- Kikkoman® Less Sodium Soy Sauce is perfect for home cooks who are looking to cut down on their sodium levels, without sacrificing flavor
- Kikkoman offers wide range of Gluten-Free Asian sauces, including Gluten-Free Oyster Sauce and Gluten-Free Hoisin Sauce
- The KikkomanUSA.com Chinese site offers easy Asian recipes that home cooks can enjoy any night of the week
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Check out a quick story summary of our recipe!