For a touch of class and some old-school vibes, bring along a claypot when camping.
Once your soup, porridge, curry or time-honoured claypot rice starts bubbling in earnest, mouths at camp will start watering.
A claypot distributes heat evenly, from the bottom and all around. When you see how your meal boils, you will know the difference.
If you are camping in a cold place like near Genting Highlands or Cameron Highlands, claypot mutton rice will be a satisfying, warming dinner after the sun sets and the air gets cold.
But there are a few rules to observe when using a claypot.
Submerge your brand new claypot in water overnight and then let it dry in the sun.
Clay is not as strong as metal (duh). Sudden, uneven heat distribution is a great way to see your claypot cracking into pieces.
The jets of blue fire from a camp stove are super hot, so start it at the lowest setting. Give the claypot time to heat up as a whole.
Unlike cooking with a metal pot or pan, one should drizzle the oil into the clatpot early and throw in your condiments and mutton. Don’t wait for the claypot to get sizzling hot.
Cut your mutton into bite sizes so that at camp, you can easily hold your plate or bowl in one hand and eat with the other hand. Smaller meat cuts also cook faster so you save on gas.
Since claypot mutton rice is ala Middle Eastern or China’s Xinjiang cuisine, a good choice of spices would be fennel (jintan manis) powder, salt and white pepper, with a little water.
And before you even start the stove, wash your rice and soak them in water for about half an hour. They will cook better.
Pair low-starch basmathi rice for your mutton affair, and if claypot chicken rice is your game, you might want to opt for local rice to enjoy a stickier texture.
Once the mutton is bubbling in earnest, it is then time to add the rice, using the standard ratio of one-cup-rice-to-two-cups-water.
Bring the mix to a simmer, put on the lid and be patient for 30 minutes, keeping the stove’s flame low. Then enjoy your meal.
Every camp stove and claypot is different. Practise at home to get all the parameters right instead of facing teething problems at camp.
> DERICK WEE, 42, camps regularly as a full-time content creator and shares his experiences on his Facebook page, “Derick the Camper”.