Updated: Mar 28
(read the end first before you start judging this blog)
A clay pot rice is a cooking vessel used in Chinese cuisine - Clay Pot means 煲仔 (bo jai), and rice means 飯 (faan). But for Pan Da Gor (彭大哥), it is also a way of thinking about food, ways of cooking and finding joys in an industrial kitchen. Da Gor, born and immigrated from Hong Kong since he was born, remembers his time eating Clay Pot Rice.
"It was a rare treat," Da Gor fondly remembers. "It was so time consuming to make, that literally no one in my family would bother to make it. But when we go out to eat, we would always order it."
Clay Pot Rice is a ancient Chinese method of cooking rice. It not only steamed the rice, but it also steamed the ingredients you put in this ancient & full of history vessel. Common ingredients included Chinese sausage, pork and sometimes a side of vegetables. Some people may choose to replace those ingredients with chicken, but it is considered a taboo if you didn't add any Chinese sausage in your Clay Pot Rice. Pan Da Gor agrees.
"What kind of monster are you?" He asked, "It's like ordering Fish & Chips without the fish!"
Another important point of a Bo Jai Faan is the crispy rice on the bottom of the clay pot when it's been steamed for so long. When Pan Da Gor has a chance to go back to Hong Kong, and go to his favourite Bo Jai Faan restaurant, he is excited to scrape the bottom of the pot for a taste of this traditional meal. Every time he returns, the feeling is renewed and feels different. "You can just taste the long hours of this (restaurant) owner's hard work," he says. "I already know how the crispy rice tastes, but the mouth feel is just so exquisite."
The clay pot is almost magical to him. How can gas flames and clay pots create such a wonderous crispy layer of rice? Not only does the clay pot help evenly distribute the heat and the cooking, but it also lets out certain level of sweet, UMAMI flavour that combines so well with the juices from the protein and the sweet soy sauce that is poured into every meal.
"Some people find happiness in money. But I find happiness in someone cooking me a Clay Pot Rice," Pan Da Gor said. Even though he cannot cook Bo Jai Faan, Pan Da Gor has classes back in New York to teach cooking Bo Jai Faan in Chinese, in his own home. He shows his students the clay pots he bought in a $10 HKD shop, and explains to them passionately what real Bo Jai Faan should look, smell and taste like.
Because of this, Pan Da Gor has earned his name "煲仔王" (bo jaai wong) - which means Bo Jai King.
As the economy in China grows, more and more people are hoping to learn Chinese so they can conduct business in China. "Of course, if they want to learn Chinese - they would want to learn about clay pot rice too! This is our culture," he said. To expand his teachings, Pan Da Gor opened a small shop selling his imported clay pots from Hong Kong, the same ones he shows students of his cooking class.
"I absolutely didn't open this shop because I wasn't making money from my cooking courses," he said. "I just want to share my love for the clay pots with New York. More people should definitely take Chinese and cook with a clay pot!" He continues by saying that the Chinese clay pot can be very intimidating at first, but he believes that there is no harm in trying.
Pan Da Gor eats in a clay pot daily, and has even published a book on how to eat with a clay pot daily - called "My Life with Clay Pots". He shares photos of his meals inside a clay pot. One of my favourite photos is his ramen and sunny-side up egg, so I asked him if it was difficult to make in a clay pot.
"No, not at all. You just need to dump all the items into the clay pot, and it's done." He said. "It so easy anyone can do it! Even me who only likes to eat!"
This is a COMPLETELY SATIRE piece inspired by this NY Times Magazine article. All information about the Clay Pot Rice may not be factually true, just how like the article of NY Times is highly exaggerated & ridiculous as well.