Hainanese Chicken Rice
Have you even given a chicken an exfoliating scrub and massage? I have!
First they’re all a little loose and wrinkly…so you give it a nice sea salt scrub massage. How luxurious…rub…rub…rub…
Eh…voila! Post exfoliation chicken skin is smooth and shiny. Now you know it really does work on our face!
I’m not crazy I can assure you. I was just preparing to cook the ultimate favourite dish of my original homeland…yeah I have made one too many homes now. Singapore’s pride and joy – Chicken Rice. Otherwise known as Hainanese Chicken Rice. I first learnt how to cook this dish from a friend who is Hainanese, so I guess it’s considered somewhat authentic…somewhat.
The essentials to good chicken rice is the tenderness of the poached chicken and the fragrance of the rice.
So, back to my chicken. Having been exfoliated, stuff the chicken’s cavity with thick slices of ginger and spring onion. Bring a pot of salted water to boil (with enough water to cover the bird), immerse the chicken breast side down and let the pot come back to a boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Make sure there’s no major boiling action…just slow, slow simmering. This produces juicy, tender chicken. Just the way it should be.
There will be scum. Lots of it. If I hadn’t exfoliated the chicken, there would have been way more scum. Skim the scum off with a fine sieve or other fancy gadgets you may have.
Once cooked, dunk the chicken in an ice bath. Watch the ice melt helplessly…but leave it in the bath for about 10 minutes.In the meantime, cook the rice (instructions below) with the chicken stock, garlic and screwpine (pandan) leaves. Let the fragrance emanate through the whole house, sit in the corner with hungry hubby and wait patiently. Or leave hungry hubby alone in the corner, and head back to the kitchen to prepare homemade chicken rice chilli sauce. No no…not cheating and getting it from a jar this time.
The chilli sauce is an important factor to this dish. Along with dark soy sauce…it takes the simple, poached chicken and rice to a whole different level. It is a must have…otherwise, you’ll just have regular poached chicken and rice. It’ll still be delish I’m sure, but I’m a chilli freak.
Oh, aside from crispy deep fried chicken skin, this is about the only non-fried chicken skin I would actually eat. (If it’s not too fatty)…so this is when you’ll truly appreciate the scum-free, smooth skin of the chicken. Yummers.
FOR THE POACHED CHICKEN:
1 whole chicken (about 1.8kg), preferably organic
Course salt / sea salt
5 inches of fresh ginger, sliced
2 stalks spring onions
light soy sauce
1. Exfoliate chicken with the salt till the dead skin bits are gone and what is left is smooth, shiny skin.
2. Stuff ginger and spring onions in the chicken’s cavity.
3. In a big pot, boil some salted water. Immerse chicken breast side in, make sure there’s enough water to cover the chicken. Let the water come back to a boil, lower heat and let it simmer slowly on low for about 45 minutes.
4. Once done, lift the chicken out of the stock and immerse in ice bath for about 10 minutes. Let chicken cool completely before cutting / de-boning it.
5. Once de-boned, drizzle lightly with sesame oil and light soy sauce. Garnish and serve with rice.
FOR THE RICE:
3 cups of jasmine / long grained rice, rinsed and drained well
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 stalks of screwpine leaves, washed and knotted
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cooking oil (or chicken fat if you have some)
6 cups of chicken stock (which is why you need to cook the chicken first!)
1 tbsp of chicken stock powder (optional – but I find that it adds more flavour)
1. In a hot pan, heat the oil, add the garlic and fry till fragrant (but not browned!) add the rice, salt and stock powder and fry till the rice is slightly translucent.
2. Place rice in rice cooker, add the screwpine leaves and stock and cook as per usual. (Same way you’d cook rice in a pot if you do not have a rice cooker)
FOR THE CHILLI SAUCE:
2 – 3 large red chillies which are less spicy (I used the super spicy small ones)
2 – 3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp of chicken stock
a generous pinch of salt
1. Whiz everything up in a blender and hurrah we have chilli sauce.