One of the reasons I love visiting my parents in Zhongshan in Guangdong province is indulging in all the Cantonese food I miss living up north. And rarely do we eat out, although not for lack of good restaurants. Mostly we cook at home, sometimes experimenting, other times cooking old favorites.
Clay pot rice with Cantonese sausage is one of my favorite homestyle favorites. Why eat plain rice when you can gobble up rice flavored with juicy sausages? Called "lap mei fan" or "bo zai fan" in Cantonese, clay pot rice is one of the easiest ways to elevate a weeknight meal, or act as a stand-alone meal.
What kind of sausage can you use? Either of the ones in the photo below: all-pork sausage (the reddish one, and most common kind), or pork and duck (the darker ones, smokier in flavor.) The squarish piece is cured duck meat, like cured ham except different animal. The most common "lap mei fan" includes all three, but you can use just the all-pork sausage, which is easiest to find outside China.
Another tip: if you're cooking rice in a clay pot on a gas stove, it's helpful to add a metal heat plate to diffuse the heat so the rice in the center doesn't burn. (After the rice has absorbed most of the water, place the plate - like the one above - between the wok and the burner.) If you don't have such a plate, just be diligent about stirring the rice in the middle of the pot.
Clay Pot Rice with Cantonese Sausage
- 3 cups white rice
- Enough water to cover rice by 1/2 inch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 3 to 4 Cantonese sausages (lap cheong)
- 1 to 2 small bunches choi sum or Chinese broccoli (gai lan)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- Egg for frying, optional
- In a clay pot, add enough water to cover the rice by 1/2 inch. Stir in the oil and salt. Let stand 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, quickly plunge the sausages in boiling water, like blanching vegetables, and remove. (This removes the surface oil and other debris, especially helpful if your sausages are sold unwrapped.)
- Bring the water in the clay pot to boil over medium-high heat. Add the sausages to the rice once the water is boiling. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer with the lid on. After 10 to 12 minutes, when the rice has absorbed most of the water (as indicated by lack of water bubbles), add the metal plates (optional) to diffuse heat.
- Cook another 10 minutes, then add the leafy greens to the top of the rice, and drizzle over with soy sauce. Re-cover the pot, allow the greens to steam in the rice for 3 to 5 minutes, then turn off heat. Remove the sausages and slice. Return sausages to the rice and keep the pot covered until ready to serve. (Optional: Add fried or over-easy egg.)