Wash the mushrooms and dried shrimps. Then soak the mushrooms and dried shrimps in separate bowls in hot water until soft.
Dice the pork and marinate in the marinade ingredients for about 20 minutes.
Soak the Chinese Sausage in boiling water for a few minutes, then remove the skin from the Chinese sausage and dice.
Slice the cabbage into medium sized pieces.
Chop the spring onion into small pieces.
Wash the rice and drain off the water. Put the rice into the rice cooker pot but do not set it to cook yet.
Once the mushrooms are soft, remove the stems completely and discard. Squeeze out the water and cut each mushroom into 4 to 6 pieces. Remember to keep the soaking water as we will need it for cooking the rice.
Once the dried shrimps are soft, remove them from the water and set aside. Mix the mushroom water and dried shrimp water. Sieve the mixture and add more water to make up to 1 3/4 rice cups in volume (see Cooking Tips).
Put the 3 Tbsp of oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the dried shrimps and fry for 2-3 minute, then add in the chopped garlic and fry until fragrant. You need to control the fire to ensure the ingredients do not spatter/burn (see Cooking Tips).
Add the Chinese sausage and Chinese mushrooms and continue to fry for another few minutes.
Add 1 tsp of salt and the mushroom-shrimp-water mixture into the wok and bring it to a boil. Then switch off the fire.
Pour the mixture on top of the rice. Do not stir the rice otherwise the heat will not penetrate through the rice grains resulting in uncooked rice.
Put the cabbage on top of all the ingredients and set the rice cooker to cook as per normal.
10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the marinated pork on top of the cabbage and continue to cook in the rice cooker (see Cooking Tips).
Once the rice is cooked, add the 1 tbsp of dark soya sauce and 1 tsp of sesame oil and stir in using a pair of chopsticks (see Cooking Tips) to mix well. Then serve garnished with spring onion, fried crispy shallot and fried crispy garlic.
Know Thy Cabbages! There are different types of cabbage available in the local markets and supermarkets. You can learn to tell apart by their shapes: round (spherical), round (slightly flattened like a rugby ball) and spear-shaped (also known as sugarloaf cabbage).
Choose round and slightly flattish cabbage for this dish, as it has thicker leaves that give a more crunchy texture after cooking. This is also the same cabbage I use for making steamed cabbage rolls, a tasty and healthy nostalgic dish. The spherical shaped cabbage has thin leaves and tend to become mushy after cooking.
Learn how to choose Chinese dried shiitake mushroomshere.
Pre-frying the ingredients will make them fragrant, so that the fragrance and flavours will seep into the rice during the cooking process.
Be careful NOT to stir the rice when pouring the pre-fried ingredients into the rice cooker. Otherwise the heat will not penetrate through the rice grains resulting in uncooked rice.
To ensure that the pork does not get overcooked, add in the pork only in the last 10 minutes.
Alway use 1/4 less cups of water than the amount of rice. This is to take into account that the cabbage will also release water during the cooking process. If you add too much water, the rice will become soggy.
Do not fry the garlic before the shrimp as the garlic tends to burns easily before the shrimp becomes fragrant.
Turn the heat down slightly if the oil starts to spatters when you add in the dried shrimps. Once the spattering stops, you can turn the heat back up.
Use a pair of chopsticks when stirring the black sauce into the rice to avoid breaking the rice grains.