Wednesday, March 16, 2016

One Pot Rice Cooker Healthy and Traditional Hokkien style Yam Rice 健康传统的福建芋头饭

Although I'm neat and organised, I'm not very good at multitasking. To avoid confusing myself, I always prefer to stay focus and do things one at a time. Yet, being a working mum has forced me to do more multitasking these days...

Growing up with my Hokkien grandma, I used to see her cooking yam rice very often. Why? It is very easy and economical to cook and also very fragrant and fulfilling to eat. Essentially, yam rice has been a great recipe for a multitasking Hokkien mum to cook... like my grandma who needed to juggle well to feed her six children.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I don't have six children to feed! LOL! I just like to cook yam rice because my Hokkien husband loves it and also it is a great recipe for me to serve easy delicious healthy food at home.

Healthy yam rice?

Traditionally, yam rice is cooked with pork belly and white rice. For a homely healthier version, I have cooked mine with skinless chicken thighs and brown rice. I would strongly suggest NOT to use chicken breast as the meat will turn out to be too tough for this recipe.

Cooking yam rice with brown rice can be slightly different from cooking it with white rice as brown rice has an outer bran coating which requires more water and a longer cooking time to cook. Why brown rice? ... because it is less processed and contains more fiber, protein and nutritional contents whereas white rice is just “empty calories”.

To cook brown rice well enough, some recipes suggest soaking the brown rice overnight before cooking but I don't think soaking the rice will help the rice to cook any faster. According to SunRice, soaking rice before cooking is only useful for making cooked sushi rice looking more glossy and translucent. So instead, I prefer to have my cooked rice (tightly covered) to rest for at least 30 mins after cooking as I strongly believe that this is an essential step to cook a better brown rice. Nevertheless, if you still prefer to soak your brown rice overnight, please go ahead to do so but you must remember NOT to soak rice at the room temperature for more than 8 hours as it is not safe to do that.

I'm sure you had enough of my blah blah blah... Now, are you ready to multitask and cook this super easy yam rice? Just follow my 10 yam rice cooking steps to a tee and I'm sure you will find more time to do even more multitasking... LOL!

one pot rice cooker healthy traditional Hokkien yam rice
One Pot Rice Cooker Healthy Yam Rice
First, place brown rice into your rice cooker or large cooking pot. Wash and top the rice with water. Set aside.
Second, cut the chicken into cubes and marinate with five spice powder.
Third, gather these ingredients.
And soak them in hot boiling water for a short 5 mins. Drain and pat dry these ingredients.
Fourth, peel garlic and shallot and finely chop them.
Fifth, I did this.

Next, I will have to sauté some of the ingredients. It is essential to sauté the yam, garlic, shallot, dried shrimp, dried scallop, dried mushroom and chicken before cooking them with the rice as this cooking step will bring out the flavours of these ingredients and so I wouldn't skip these steps!

Sixth, sauté the yam until it is lightly browned.
Then transfer them into the uncooked rice.
Seventh, sauté the garlic, shallot, dried shrimp, dried scallop and dried mushroom until fragrant.
Then transfer them into the uncooked rice.
Eighth, sauté the chicken until nicely browned.
Then transfer them into the uncooked rice.
Nineth, add these seasoning ingredients into the rice.
Tenth, cook the rice until the water look absorbed and leave it to rest (well covered) for at least 30 mins.
While the rice is cooking, I fried some sliced shallots to serve with the rice.
Dinner time!
This is our healthy and yet so rustic yam rice!
Very fragrant and flavoursome too!

We love love love this yam rice but...

"Mum, the next time you cook this rice, can you cook it without the yam?" asked my Aussie-born son. Hearing this, my husband and I shook our heads repeatedly.

"I like this rice but thought it will be nicer without the yam." My son was trying explain his new-age opinion further.

"Sweetie, how can you eat yam rice without any yam? It is not yam rice anymore!" I know that I sound like an old nanny saying this but I wonder if the new generation will understand and appreciate yam rice as much as we do.

I hope that you will like my healthy version of traditional yam rice and here's the recipe that is mostly adapted from and Singapore Heart Foundation

Serves 4-5
1 1/2 cup (375ml) brown rice* or any white rice
200g chicken thighs, skinless, boneless* or 75g pork belly, cut into 2-3 cm cubes
1/2 tsp five spice powder
3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms - try not use any fresh mushroom, the taste is never as good as the dried ones.
about 5g (or a small handful) dried scallop, optional
30g dried shrimp
1 garlic clove
1 shallot
200g yam, weight is after peeled, washed and cubed
2 1/2 tbsp of cooking oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt or more or less to taste and can be optional
3 cup water (750ml) if you are using brown rice or 1 1/2 (375ml) cup water if you are using white rice

To serve:
spring onions, the green part, finely sliced
chilies, finely sliced
crispy fried shallots
coriander, optional 

*my healthy options

Step 1:
Place rice in the pot of your rice cooker or a large cooking pot that a well-fitted transparent lid. Wash and drain rice with adequate water until the water used for washing is no longer cloudy. Drain rice well. Assuming that the amount of the retaining water in the drained rice is about 1/2 cup, top the brown rice with 3 cup of water or white rice with 1 1/2 cup of water. If you prefer not to agak agak (meaning estimate in Malay) and want to be super critical with the amount of water added, you can use a sieve to drain the rice very thoroughly and add 3 1/2 cup water into the washed brown rice or 2 cup water into the washed white rice. Set aside.

Step 2:
Marinate the cubed chicken or pork with five spice powder.

Step 3:
Soak dried mushrooms, dried scallop, dried shrimp in hot water for about 5-10 mins until soft. Rinse and pat them dry. Then slice the mushrooms and shred the scallop into small pieces.

Step 4:
Peel garlic and shallot and finely chop them.

Step 5:
Peel, wash and cut yam into 2 cm cubes

Step 6:
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan until the oil is hot and sauté the yam until lightly browned. Remove from the frying pan and transfer into the washed rice.

Step 7:
Add another 1 tbsp oil into the same heated hot pan (you don't have to wash the pan) and fry the garlic and shallots until golden and fragrant, then add mushroom, scallop and shrimp and cook with high heat until all are fragrant. Remove from the frying pan and transfer into the washed rice.

Step 8:
Add another 1/2 tbsp oil into the same heated hot pan (you don't have to wash the pan) and fry chicken or sliced pork belly and cook with high heat until nicely browned. Remove from the frying pan and transfer into the washed rice.

Step 9:
Add sugar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, ground white pepper, fish sauce and salt (optional) into the washed rice.

Step 10:
Use a rice cooker (preferably with brown rice function) or a cooking pot (with simmering low heat) to cook the rice. Whether you are using a plain cooking pot or rice cooker with or without brown rice cooking function, cook the rice until the water is absorbed without opening the lid. When the rice is cooked, turn off heat and allow the rice to rest for at least 30 min without opening the lid. Remember, NO peeking!!!

Serve the yam rice while it is hot with spring onions, chilies, fried shallots and coriander.

Happy Cooking
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  1. Your one pot yam rice looks so so delicious.. But I'm lazy to work with yam, they are slimy, a lot of work (to me), haha.. For me, one wok means dump all inside, press cook, and that's it.. I dump rice, water/stock, chicken (marinated with oyster sauce, sesame oil, pepper, soy sauce), chinese sausage, that'a about it, haha..

  2. I've had this dish in restaurants, but never made it. Love the idea of using chicken thighs! Can't resist pork belly, but the chicken is so much more rational. Good stuff -- thanks.

  3. So hungry looking at this! This is the type of Hokkien "kiam peng" (savory rice) that I miss too.

  4. Zoe, I am Hokkien and yet I have not eaten this yam rice! After looking at your bowls of delicious yam rice, I am very determined to cook some for myself :)

  5. Oh nice! A healthy version of the yam rice. A couple of years ago, this was quite popular in KL but I dont recall seeing restaurants serving it anymore nowadays.

  6. Hi Zoe,
    I love yam rice, have not cooked this for ages! Your healthy version looks delicious!

  7. I love yam rice. I think I will try out your recipe and make my own yam rice.

  8. Thanks for sharing. Really miss the taste of a good yam rice tgat my late mum uses to cooked. Cooked a pot today and it's so easy and delicious!

  9. Delicious! So hearty, homely and so yummy! My favorite part of this type of dish is the fragrance...oh the smell of everything together and the tastiness always gets me! I never say no to a good hearty clay pot style rice :)