Friday, November 13, 2009

A Letter from Hong Kong from Chewing the Fat subscriber, Richard Kligler, and a recipe for Claypot Cooking without the Claypot

The Kligler Family, Marcia and Richard, Sean and Jill, are dear friends of ours who relocated to Hong Kong four years ago.  We've had a wonderful friendship over the years, much of it revolving around our mutual love of food.  The Kliglers have been our Thanksgiving companions for years. 

In fact spending the holiday together was a tradition that goes back to the days when my partner, Andrew and Marcia Clark Kligler, toiled at Abraham & Strauss in downtown Brooklyn.  Black Friday, the retailer's biggest day of the Christmas shopping season, meant no travel over the holiday.  Instead Andrew and Marcia  celebrated with a group of friends from work.  

When I joined the group 20 years ago, it was a tradition that was still going strong.  And so strong is it still, that 3 years ago, five of us actually went to Hong Kong to spend Thanksgiving with the Kliglers.

Below:Jill Clark McNally and niece Jill Kligler HK 2006

Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities on earth and I was fortunate to have gone back there on business just this past March.   It's a completely fascinating culture clash where street markets meet skyscrapers, world class restaurants sit practically next to holes in the wall.   Hong Kong is an omnivore's delight and you'll find great food almost everywhere.  Which is precisely what Richard's letter is all about.  Here it is:

                                                                                                                 Below: Marcia Clark Kligler and daughter Jill.'09

"Congratulations on your food blog. I just love it, especially knowing the author, which makes it more personal. I can just about hear you talking about the food.

I registered and am looking forward to following each of your recipes and comments on restaurants. The pix get me hungry every time I view them.

Speaking of Nasi Goreng, I just love that dish. When Sean and I were taking our scuba diving lessons in Bali, our divemaster, Sweta, would have his wife make us lunch each day. The first day we had Nasi Goreng. After our first experience of this dish, Sean and I asked Sweta if his wife would be kind enough to prepare it for us each of the following four days. He told us she was ecstatic to hear we enjoyed her cooking. Thanks for the recipe. Yummy Yummy!

Bo Jai Fan, A photo by Kenneth from Picasa Albums

When the weather gets cool here in Hong Kong, the choice of cooking methods change. At this time of year the clay pots come out. The pots are individual servings that have rice on the bottom and on the top of the rice you place chicken, pork, fish or especially Chinese sausage. In Cantonese it is called “Bo Jai Fan.” You can smell the aromas on the streets at this time of year since it has a distinct smoky smell. Basically because the rice at the bottom gets browned and crispy from the high heat against the clay and that smoky flavor permeates the meats and/or vegetables. When it is served , you remove the cover and add one of two sauces. The first is a dark soy sauce which is on the thick side and not very salty. The second sauce is almost syrup-like and a sweeter type of soy sauce. You then mix everything in the pot. Once mixed, you can crack an egg on the top. You then replace the cover and wait about 3 – 5 minutes. The cover is removed and a tad more sauce is added for moisture and flavor.

The reason I mention Bo Jai Fan is that my good friend Kendrew from Jakarta enjoys his food like I do and loves this dish. He said the best place for Bo Jai Fan is on Temple Street in Kowloon and he was right. About a year or so ago, he was visiting Hong Kong and invited me to go with him to Temple Street. On an off-beat road, we went to his favorite restaurant which specializes in clay pot rice, as the westerners call it. We ordered three different hot pots, including sausage, chicken and seafood. When the pots were served, I asked which sauce he likes and he said he favors the sweeter soy sauce. Well, the food was incredible. So I asked Kendrew what is the name of the sweet sauce or how do you make it. He said it is identical to Kecap Manis. I know what you are thinking, “Why didn’t he get right to the point?” Yes, Kecap Manis is an Indonesian sauce commonly used for Nasi Goreng. So when I saw the sauce in the recipe, it brought back the memories of scuba diving and my food adventures with Kendrew.

Thanks to Kendrew I have two bottles of Kecap Manis from Indonesia. The brand that he supplied me with is called BANGO. Actually the link you provided for the sauce carries BANGO. I highly recommend this brand.

Once again, congratulations and thank you for sharing your knowledge of food.

With kindest personal regards,


More from Monte Mathews:

Richard's letter so intrigued me that I wanted to include a recipe for Claypot Cooking.  I found one at, the site I've recommended before for all things Asian. Even though it doesn't require a claypot, it does require a rice steamer so if you have one, fire it up.  If you don't, proceed with caution.    Now I am living dangerously here, because I have yet to try this recipe but I have every confidence in the site and it's gorgeous hostess, Bee Yinn Low, who lives in Irvine CA, so her recipes are adapted to American kitchens.  So here it is:


Recipe for Claypot Chicken Rice without Claypot

2 cups rice
1 skinless chicken breast & 2 chicken drumsticks
1 stalk scallion (chopped)
3 inches ginger (peel the skin and chop into thin strips)
6 shitake mushrooms (soak in hot water for 30 minutes and cut into halves)
1 small piece salted fish (cut into small pieces)
2 Chinese sausage (sliced) – optional

Seasoning for chicken:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon chicken boullion powder
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
5 dashes white pepper powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine (or rice wine)

Seasoning for rice:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 pinch of salt

  1. Chop the chicken breast and chicken drumsticks into pieces.
  2. Add the chicken seasoning and mix well. Marinate for an hour in the fridge.
  3. Rinse and clean the rice in a rice cooker as if you are making steamed rice after the chicken is marinated for an hour.
  4. Add the rice seasoning and cooking oil into the rice and start cooking the rice.
  5. At the same time, heat up a wok with some cooking oil. Add in the chicken and shitake mushrooms.
  6. Quickly stir-fry the chicken until half-cooked. Add in the chopped scallions. Dish out and set aside.
  7. Deep fry the salted fish and set aside.
  8. Add the chicken into the rice cooker when the rice is almost dry (about 7-8 minutes) and continue to cook till rice is completely cooked.
  9. Leave the rice cooker on “Stay Warm” for 15 – 20 mintues before serving.
  10. Top the chicken rice with fried salted fish and serve immediately.

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