The weather has been rather cooling of late and this makes me crave for piping hot food. Such an irony right I know… when it’s hot and wretched, we want something cold and chilling, and when the temperature takes a dip, we yearn for something to get our rumbling tummies all warm and happy. There are many things I love to cook and eat really warm, like stews, soups, porridge and of course claypot rice. I love eating 广式煲仔饭 Cantonese claypot rice for the piping hot and perfectly cooked grains with succulent bits of chicken and of course my favorite Chinese sausages and salted fish! Really yums!!!
We used to have an eathern stove at home when I was young, fueled by charcoal that could be kept warm for hours, as the hardened chunks of ebony slowly wasted away to become a crumbly ivory, until all that’s left was a disintegrated heap of cinder and ash. But using it could be quite a hassle to use, especially to kickstart the burning. But me ain’t no boy scout, so it was usually my father who “did the honours” to get the fire started. Once started, it served for a myriad of purposes, i.e. toasting belachan (fermentted shrimp paste) to make sambal, maintaining a large pot of broth for steamboat refills, or simply transferring out the charcoal pieces from that stove into a longish rectangular metal trough which was used to prepare kueh belandah (nyonya egg rolls) for chinese new year . In fact, steamboats in the past where fueled by charcoal which were “preheated” using the earthern stove as well! While some of the uses of an earthen stove were somewhat ritualistic, others remained very practical, and for me, the most practical and personal favorite “use” of the earthern stove has to be cooking 煲仔鸡饭 Cantonese Claypot Chicken Rice!