Chicken & Mushroom Clay Pot Rice (煲仔鸡饭)

This is classic Chinese comfort food that tastes great and is easy to make. In Cantonese, this dish is also called “waat gai”  (滑鸡, literally “slippery chicken”). Basically, by steaming the chicken in the clay pot, it ends up with a great silky texture and flavor. Bone-in chicken wings are called for in this dish as they cook quickly and add extra flavor to the rice. I also infuse my chicken stock with scallions, ginger, star anise, white pepper, and other Asian aromatics before using to enhance the flavors in this dish (but that’s a recipe to be posted another day). While an unglazed clay pot is best to cook this in (you can buy one online or at an Asia market), you could probably adapt this dish to be cooked in any ceramic stove-top safe cooking vessel. You can omit some of the harder to find ingredients (like wood ear mushrooms and dried lily buds), and just add more chicken if you like. Even if your dish is mostly just chicken and rice, you’ll still have a great chicken dinner. This recipe makes 2-4 servings (2 big main course servings, or 4 smaller servings if you add a vegetable side like Baby Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce).


For Topping:

  • a small handful of dried lily flowers
  • a small handful of dried wood ears (about 1/4 cup when rehydrated)
  • 8 small dried shiitakes
  • 3 chicken drumettes and 3 winglets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • pinch of white pepper

For the Rice:

  • 1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 slice ginger, finely julienned
  • 1 scallion, chopped

Ingredient Notes:

Lily Buds (金针):

Also known as golden needles and “yellow flower vegetable” (黃花菜), dried lily buds are the unopened flowers of day lilies. Dried lily buds are yellow-gold in color, with a musky or earthy taste. They’re often paired with mushroms (especially wood ear and cloud ear mushrooms) in classic Chinese dishes like mushu pork (木須肉) and hot and sour soup (酸辣汤).

When purchasing lily buds, look for ones that are pale in color, and not brittle. At home, store them in a jar in a cool and dry place. After soaking for about 15 minutes, rinse them, trim off the woody stems, cut them into 2-inch pieces, and put them into a new bowl of water to continue soaking for another 45 minutes. This ensures the lily buds are clean and mild in flavor.

Wood Ears (木耳):

Also known as black fungus, tree ears, and jelly mushroom, wood ear mushrooms are a classic ingredient in Chinese food, and are frequently paired with dried lily buds. They don’t really have much flavor of their own, but they do soak in the flavors of whatever they’re cooked with and add a nice crunchy texture to many dishes.

Wood ears are sold mainly in dried form, in plastic bags. If stored in an airtight container, they should keep for up to a year. To use them, soak for an hour, rinse, and give them a rough chop.

Shiitake Mushrooms:

In Chinese cooking, these are often called black mushrooms or black forest mushrooms. There is also a high-grade type of Chinese shiitake called huāgū (花, literally “flower mushroom”) which  has a flower-like cracking pattern on the mushroom’s upper surface. These are my favorite to use in this dish, but you can use whatever dried shiitakes you can find.

To prepare for use, soak in hot water for 30 minutes, and trim off the stems (they can be tough and hold excess dirt). Rinse again and change the water. Continue soaking. You can leave the mushrooms whole, or slice them.


Toss the soaked lily flowers, wood ear mushrooms, black mushrooms, and chicken with the rest of the topping ingredients until well-combined. Set aside.

For the rice, start by combining the rice, chicken stock, salt, and oil in your clay pot. Pour the marinated mushrooms and chicken evenly over the top of the rice–if there’s excess liquid at the bottom of the bowl, give it another stir and spoon it over the top.

Sprinkle the julienned ginger and half of the chopped scallion over the top and cover the pot. Place over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, and then turn down the heat to the lowest setting. Cook for 25 minutes. When the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through, garnish with the rest of the scallions and serve.