Regional Cantonese Clay Pot Rice Roundup (SF Bay Area)

Clay Pot Rice

Considered more of a hearty, winter meal, clay pot rice/little pot rice/bou zhai faan is a dish cooked and served in a flat-bottomed clay pot. The clay pot rice is cooked by covering the clay pot and steaming the long grain rice and ingredients layered on top of said rice. With the evaporation of water through the process of cooking, a golden brown socarrat of rice is ideally formed, giving a crispy and crunchy texture to the dish. The toppings flavor is also seeped into the rice with fattier items helping provide an even more fragrant infusion. Right before you eat, usually seasoned soy sauce is then added on top giving the rice an umami explosion.

Some typical versions you might find are:

  • Lap Mei Fan - A clay pot rice that has multiple types of preserved meats in it. There are four typical types of preserved meats seen in this claypot: lap cheong (preserved sausage), yun cheong (duck liver sausage), lap yuk (cured pork belly), and lap gnap (cured duck). These four preserved meats tends to be high in fat which helps coat the bottom of the claypot for a more even heating of the pot.
  • Another combination is boned chicken and lap cheong with shiitake mushroom. The shiitake mushrooms itself have a good amount of glutamates on them, but combined that with the lap cheong and the seasoned soy sauce and you have a very savory dish. The chicken with bones should be relatively smooth and tender and juicy; in theory the bones should provide some insulation to the cooking and prevent overcooking.
  • Pork spareribs claypot rice is another variant. The spareribs are similar to what you would see at dim sum restaurants with the black beans. As the fat from the spareribs seeps into the rice, that golden soccarat should be ever present (and if you can’t tell by now, claypot rice might not be the best diet meal)
  • A Toishan special is the yellow eel claypot rice. The eel tends to be quite fragrant as well and the presentation of the fish is usually julienned.

Where to eat?

Claypot rice can be found in lots of restaurants but Taishan Clay Pot Cafe is one that seems to specialize in it ( )

Check out all the other topics on the regional Cantonese cuisine

Though of all the topics that are split from the primer, I always wondered about Claypot rice as its own category as we really don’t have that many independent venues. Dunno, if anyone has any thoughts, we can probably place it into one of the other categories. Thanks!