Chinese inspired Jambalaya
Chinese, Entrees, Recipes

Chinese-inspired Jambalaya

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A few months ago, I joined a Facebook group called Food Bloggers Central founded by the amazing Nagi of RecipeTin Eats and Megan of Culinary Hill. I was blown away by how supportive the bloggers are to one another. Food blogging is often a one-man team and having someone (or a group of like-minded people) who will have your back, when you’re trying to figure out how to do the million things that’s usually required to maintain a food blog, just helps a ton.

I had already befriended Nagi a while back before joining the group (I interviewed her just last year for my blog series Meet My Inspiration) So when she approached me about being a member of Food Bloggers Central, I immediately said yes.

Fast forward to last month, Nagi had initiated this project called Food Blog Hop. The idea is that each blogger who’s interested in the project would be matched with two other bloggers, and we would basically cook each other’s recipe.

Then maybe a week later, Nagi being her awesome ambitious self posted a spreedsheet of the big list of bloggers, and who each blogger was matched with. What a task! Bravo, Nagi! I quickly went down the list, and found my name next to Neli of Delicious Meets Healthy. I didn’t know Neli before so I starting poking around her blog and spotted something I’ve been wanting to try – Jambalaya.

If you’ve been following my posts, you probably have noticed my growing love for Southern cuisine ever since I watched the first episode of A Chef’s Life. I mean, I did go after Vivian’s chicken and rice, and cooked it back to back for two weekends. Would I take a trip down to North Carolina and eat at Vivian Howard’s restaurant, Chef & the Farmer? HECK YEAH, in a heartbeat I would. Did you know that A Chef’s Life was just nominated for multiple James Beard Awards? I just love what Vivian is doing and the awesome stories that she’s been sharing. It’s so inspirational to me. My desire to learn about food and culture has been growing faster than I can keep up, and then when I saw Neli’s jambalaya, my light bulb bursted into a shower of meat, vegetables, and rice (insert imagination).

Jambalaya reminds me a lot of Hong Kong style clay pot rice. Clay pot rice is such an iconic Hong Kong winter dish. When I was in the Kong 2 weeks ago, I was thrilled when Emily (who I met on Instagram and spent the day hiking the Dragon’s Back with) suggested that we’d get clay pot rice for dinner in Yau Ma Tei.

And it was amazing.

Hong Kong style clay pot rice

I love the similarities between Jambalaya and clay pot rice. Both have meat and vegetables cooked in one pot, and it’s so rich and savory, it will just shoot you to the moon and back.

So without having much knowledge about this iconic Southern dish, I went off to find out all kinds of things about the Jambalaya.

Chinese inspired jambalaya

Jambalaya is a Louisianan dish that has a lot of French and Spanish influences, and it’s made differently depending on the region you’re in. Many debate over rather the jambalaya was evolved from the Spanish paella or French Jamalaia, or perhaps both given the region’s cultural history with Spanish and French settlers in the 18th Century.

Jambalaya is a lovely and rich stew that has four main ingredients: meats, vegetables, stock, and rice. The most common version is probably the red jambalaya, also known as the Creole jambalaya which is referred to as “city food”. Creole jambalaya is more popular near New Orleans, on the Eastern part of Louisiana. The other kind of jambalaya is the brown jambalaya, also known as Cajun jambalaya which is referred to as “country food”. And Cajun jambalaya is commonly found in Western and Central Louisiana.

So how the heck do you tell between a Creole and a Cajun jambalaya? The main difference is the use of tomatoes in the Creole jambalaya. And Cajun jambalaya is known as brown jambalaya because of the natural camelization of sugar in meats and veggies in the browning process, and it later gets incorporated into the stock.

After giving both styles some thoughts, I chose to do a Cajun jambalaya over the Creole jambalaya. The Cajun culture and their history reminds me a lot of my Hakka roots. Cajun food is rustic country food that is generally very well seasoned which shares a lot of common ground with Hakka cuisine. Based on the typical Cajun jambalaya recipes, I switched out some things like onion and smoked sausage with Chinese turnip (lor bak) and Chinese sausage (lap Cheong). I also added five-spiced pork belly, fresh ginger, hoisin sauce, garlic chili sauce, and scallion to kick this Chinese-inspired jambalaya into high gear.

I was ecstatic with this Chinese-inspired Jambalaya that’s totally comforting with a touch of my Chinese heritage.

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Chinese-inspired Jambalaya
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 5-6
  • ½ lb skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • ⅛ tsp white pepper powder
  • ½ lb pork belly, skinless
  • ¼ tsp five spice powder
  • 2oz Chinese sausage (lap cheong)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 cup diced Chinese turnip (lor bak), about ½" dices
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1½ cups long grain white rice
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp garlic chili sauce
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ½ lb medium or large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3 stalks chopped scallion
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  1. Slice pork belly diagonally into ¼" thick slices. Marinate with five spice powder for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut chicken into ½" cubes. Marinate with soy sauce and white pepper powder.
  3. Slice Chinese sausage into ⅛" slices. Set aside.
  4. Mince garlic and ginger, and dice turnip into ½" cubes. And dice bell peppers.
  5. Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil, and twirl the pan a couple times to spread oil evenly. Add pork belly, stir several times until meat is browned and caramelized, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Add chicken, and cook until it's no longer pink on the outside, about 2. Remove from pan. Add Chinese sausage and let it cook for 2 minutes. Remove from pan.
  6. Turn the heat down to medium, stir in garlic and ginger, cook for 30 seconds. Add turnip and bell peppers, and let it cook for 3 minutes, stir frequently.
  7. Stir pork belly, chicken, and Chinese sausage back into the pot. Add rice and stir. Add hoisin sauce, garlic chili sauce, thyme, oregano, and garlic powder, and stir one more time until everything is mixed well together. Throw in the bay leaves, then add chicken stock. Give it a quick stir, and turn the heat up. Once it boils, return the heat to low, cover and let it cook for 15 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle chopped scallion, and lay the shrimp on top, then drizzle with the lemon juice. Cover and let it cook for another 5 minutes, until shrimp has turn completely pink.
  9. Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, then serve hot.


  • Chicory

    Hi Kayiu, love to see you’re still producing awesome recipes! We enjoyed working with you in the past, and wonder if you would like to become our recipe partner now that we’ve switched to a new business model. Love your blog !

  • Melanie

    Making this tonight.

  • Alice Choi

    I love anything Asian food inspired and love Nagi and her blog. . and now am so happy to have discovered your blog, Kayiu! Love what you did with this jambalaya. . so creative I love it!!!

  • Christine Siracusa

    YUMMMMM! I just came here via Recipe Tin Eats. Y’all are having a virtual love affair today. So awesome!

    • Saucy Spatula

      Hi Christine! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I’m feeling all the love today, and it’s so flattering and unusual to me! :) Are you a FBC member as well?

      • Christine Siracusa

        Yes. I started my blog about a month ago and it is RIDICULOUS how much I’ve learned from the folks at FBC. Such a great resource. Also, I’m a fellow Brooklyn-ite 😀

  • Helen @ Scrummy Lane

    Just popping over to say hi after reading Nagi’s very complimentary post about you (and well deserved, I can see just from reading this one post!) I just love that you’ve taken a traditional dish like this and given it a Chinese twist. Isn’t it amazing how we can do this … and it not only works but rocks! Just wonderful … like a southern-y, Chinese-y paella!

    • Saucy Spatula

      Ah, thank you, Helen! :) I’m so so grateful to have met Nagi, and have you popping over to comment! I appreciate all your kind words – it means a lot to me :) I think about this southern-y, chinese-y paella quite a bit! It’s really one of my favorites!

  • JiaYin Zhang

    looks delicious~~!

  • Lokness @ The Missing Lokness

    This looks awesome, Kayiu! I absolutely love HK clay pot rice. When we were in HK last year, we made a special trip to get clay pot rice too! It is genius to change up jambalaya with Chinese ingredients! Love this incredible one-pot rice! 😀

    • Saucy Spatula

      Thanks! I miss clay pot rice. I heard that there’s a place down in Chinatown here in NY that does really good clay pot rice but I haven’t gotten around to try it! This jambalaya is just too easy to make, and it felt like prepping actually took longer than the cooking time. And it’s totally versatile in case there’s something that you don’t like or you can’t eat.

      <3 one-pot meals!

  • Delicious Meets Healthy

    Wow, this is amazing Kayiu! Makes me happy that my jambalaya was such an inspiration for you! I had no idea that there is a similar dish (clay pot rice) in China as well. It’s fascinating that countries so far apart, Spain, France, USA and China have similar versions of this meal! :) I love your way of storytelling and learning more about the Chinese cuisine. Your pictures make me hungry! :)

    • Saucy Spatula

      Yea, totally. Pasta, noodles, all different kinds of dumplings… food is definitely very adaptive and I always find that to be the most interesting about different cultures.

      Cuisines in China is very regional, just like any other country, so I’m not entirely sure if people in Northern China are as familiar with clay pot rice as the Chinese people in the southern regions. You can also find clay pot rice in Malaysia and Singapore, and most overseas Chinese communities.

      I loved making this jambalaya and will definitely re-visit this recipe during those cold winter days! Thanks for pinning this to Pinterest!

  • Nagi | RecipeTin Eats

    I literally have goosebumps looking at this….it’s SO EXCITING!! This is revolutionary! Oh my gosh, it’s like a cross between a one pot fried rice / jambalaya / risotto / paella – Chinese style! Oooohhhhh, check out that glorious dark brown colour, it just SCREAMS of flavour!

    And Chinese sausage….I salivate whenever I see it…

    THIS is SO AWESOME!! And thank you for introducing Neli! Popping over to visit her now!

    Goes without saying this is getting seriously pinned…. N x

    • Saucy Spatula

      Oh my gosh – it’s totally a grand child of all those things! SO savory, SO satisfying, Nagi!

      I was so excited to use my brand new Lodge Dutch oven, too! It’s such a great addition to my kitchen family :)

      Thanks for stopping by and pinning! (I’m gonna go do the same on the shared board now!)

      • Nagi | RecipeTin Eats

        Oooh, you know, I DID stop to admire your dutch oven. :) I wasn’t sure if it was something you had used before or whether it was new! I only have a giant oval one I use for sourdough. Keen to get a smaller round one I can use for things like this!

        Funny thing – Japan has a dish called “nabe” which is small (or big) clay pots in which a soup type thing is cooked. It’s a clay pot so it stays warm. I use those pots to make clay pot rice. Thing is, they retain SO much heat. And I have wooden bench tops which are usually fine for placing frypans etc straight off the stove. But NOT clay pots! I have an enormous burn ring on my bench top from a claypot I put straight on the bench. On the main work area. So every day I wake up and see it and it reminds me of clay pot! So I think of clay pot rice every day. Every single day!!