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Vegan Clay Pot Rice (Bao Zai Fan)

THE rice bowl to end all rice bowls! Fluffy, perfectly cooked rice with "meaty", savory toppings, and refreshing vegetables all in one pot, every single grain of rice has fully absorbed the flavors from the umami sauce and all the flavorful toppings, and just when you think this couldn't possibly get any better, you'll reach the golden, crispy, rice "cracker" bottom for a grand finale surprise.


The Hong Kong style clay pot rice, or Bao Zai Fan 煲仔饭, is one of my absolute childhood favorites. It's a complete meal prepared, cooked, and served all in one earthware pot! The cooking process is almost poetic really, all the different ingredients uniting into one in the warm hug of the pot, bringing their individual flavors together into one euphoric experience.


Patience is key in this recipe, medium-low heat and low heat only, and you'll be rewarded with the most aromatic and beautifully cooked rice in your life plus the golden, crunchy surprise at the bottom, look at that crispy layer! It'll be a dark brown, almost charred color, mostly from the dark soy sauce used and it's just the most satisfying treat to end this delicious meal.


I cooked this recipe in my Japanese clay pot, or Donabe, which is made of a special type of clay and fired, glazed, then fired again at a very high temperature. Make sure your clay pot was treated under high heat because that's crucial for food safety. And if you don't have a clay pot you can always make this in your trusted dutch oven, or any good quality thick pot, or even your rice cooker!


And for my visual besties, I'll be posting a video of how to make this from beginning to end on my Instagram and Tiktok.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup water (rice to water 1 to 1)
6 oz shiitake mushroom
1/2 cup frozen edmame
2 small bok choy
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon coconut amino
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white pepper
Canola oil
Vegan meat of choice, optional

For the sauce -
2 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegan mushroom oyster sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon water

TO MAKE:

- Rinse the rice 2 - 3 times until the water comes out clear, then soak the rice in an equal part of water in the clay pot for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour;
- Cover the pot and place it onto medium-low heat, wait for it to reach a gentle simmer;
- Once you see steam coming out of the lid, uncover the pot, and you should see little holes forming on top of the surface, place your vegan meat of choice on top, don't stir, and wait till the water is mostly evaporated, cover again, lower the heat to low, and steam for 20 minutes;
- Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms, you can leave a few whole and carve a cross on top of them;
- In a separate pan, heat a drizzle of oil, sauté the garlic, then add the mushrooms and cook till they let out their moisture, season with the tamari or soy sauce, coconut amino, salt, and white pepper;
- Cook and stir till the sauce thickens, turn off heat and set aside;
- Mix the sauce together;
- Uncover the clay pot again, add in the mushrooms, frozen edamame, and drizzle in half of the sauce;
- Cover with the lid, then drizzle 1 - 2 tablespoons of canola oil along the edge of the pot all the way around, this is an important step to create that crispy layer at the bottom! Let cook for another 20 minutes over low heat;
- Bring a pot of water to boil, blanch the bok choy briefly till they just turn soft;
- Add the greens to the clay pot, turn off heat, and cover for 5 minutes;
- Serve immediately, drizzle on more sauce as needed, enjoy!

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