This rice cooker chicken and shiitake meal is a true staple in Cantonese households. We refer to this type of dish as “yau mei faan” (有味飯) which translates loosely into “rice with flavour” and can really be any rice to which other ingredients are added and cooked together in the rice cooker (or pot) for an easy dinner. Chinese sausages AKA “lap cheong” (臘腸 – see note 1) are fairly ubiquitous in this type of dish and add a distinctive flavour and richness that is hard to mimic with anything else. That said, if you don’t have access to lap cheong, omit it. The rice gets finished with a lip-smacking savoury sauce at the end so you won’t be missing out on flavour!
Note 1: “Lap Cheong” (臘腸) is the Cantonese term for a broad category of sausages ranging from fresh to dry-cured to smoked, from pork to chicken to duck liver, etc. The Cantonese version I grew up eating is usually pork (and pork fat) ones that are savoury and sweet, dense and chewy. They are brownish-pink with white marbling throughout from the fat. The sugar and fat in them lend so much rich flavour to dishes. Lap cheong are typically sold in shrink-wrapped packages in the refrigerated section at Chinese grocery stores. If you can’t find them, omit it from this recipe. The finishing sauce adds loads of flavour at the end.
Note 2: If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can cook it on the stove top using either a clay pot or Dutch oven. The amount of measured water for the rice remains the same i.e. 1-to-1 ratio jasmine grains to water but the cooking time differs slightly. For stove top cooking, place washed/drained rice and measured water into the clay pot or Dutch oven. Turn heat to medium-high and cook covered until steaming stage (at around 7 minutes). Remove the lid. There should still be some water on top of the rice and it should be simmering. Add par-cooked chicken mixture, cover, turn heat down to lowest setting and continue to cook a further 20-25 minutes or when rice is fully cooked and chicken mixture is hot. Remove from heat. Fluff and mix with finishing sauce. Serve with reserved scallion greens.
Rice cooker dinner
Combine chicken pieces and marinade ingredients into a bowl and set aside to marinade while you prep the remaining ingredients (i.e. mushrooms, ginger, scallions). This step can be done in advance up to the night before.
Add washed and drained rice into rice cooker, along with the measured water. Press start button for regular rice setting. We don’t add the remaining ingredients until there is steam coming out of the rice cooker and the rice is close to being done. In my 5 ½ cup-capacity rice cooker, this amount of rice takes about 25 minutes until steaming stage.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet or medium-sized wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add oil, swirl to coat bottom. Add ginger slices and scallion whites. Saute briefly then add chicken pieces. Stir fry until chicken is about 80% cooked because it will finish cooking inside the rice cooker. Add mushrooms and if using lap cheong, add them now as well. Give everything a few tosses before scooping it out. Set aside.
Make the finishing sauce by whisking all sauce ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Once steam emerges from the vent on the rice cooker lid – without stopping the rice cook function or pressing any buttons — open and add par-cooked chicken mixture. Close and let rice cooker continue cooking until finished. My rice cooker takes about 15 minutes more for this final stage.
Once rice cooker indicates completion, drizzle finishing sauce on top and mix everything together, fluffing the rice as you mix. Discard the 2 ginger slices as you come across them. Serve with reserved scallion greens as garnish and enjoy!