Hainanese chicken rice is most commonly associated with Singaporean, Malaysian and Hainanese cuisines, although it is also popular in Thailand and Vietnam. This is a dish where I would cross continents for and there are people who wouldn’t let a day go by without a plate of chicken rice.
This was my dear grandfather favourite, as a kid I remembered that he would drove us across town to his favourite restaurant in my hometown, Ubon Ratchathani, just for this dish. I think it was the herb such as ginger, garlic, pandan leaf and spring onion that made this dish so luscious. This a perfect weekend dish.
INGREDIENTS – SERVES 4-6
- 1 (1.5 kg) free-range chicken, fat trimmed and reserved
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 3-4 garlic cloveS, roughly chopped
- 6-8 slices ginger
- 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 1 ½ tspsesame oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 10 long red chillies, seeds removed and roughly chopped
- 1-2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 5 cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 75 g ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ½ tsp salt
FOR THE RICE
- reserved chicken fat or 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 4 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 cups long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 pandan leaves, individually tied in a knot
TO MAKE YOUR HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE AND SAUCES
WASH AND CLEAN chicken and leave it to drain off excess water. In a mortar or food processor, pound or blend the garlic, half the ginger and half the spring onion. Rub the paste inside the chicken, then pour in the rice wine and half the soy sauce into the chicken.
BRING a large pot of water to the boil, then turn off the heat and add the chicken also add remaining ginger and spring onion. Cover with a lid and leave to stand in the water for 1 hour. After the first 5-7 minutes, lift the chicken out and drain the water from its cavity, then return to the water. Repeat 2 or 3 times during the hour (this ensures that there’s enough hot water inside the chicken to cook it through). After 30 minutes, bring the water back to almost boiling then turn the heat off again. Cooking the chicken without boiling it ensures it is tender and juicy.
REMOVE the chicken from the water. Combine the remaining soy sauce with the sesame oil and salt and rub into the chicken. Leave to cool.
CHICKEN RICE, heat the chicken fat in a wok until it releases oil, then add the ginger and garlic and fry until fragrance and golden. Discard any solid pieces of fat. Add the rice and salt and stir-fry lightly for 2 minutes. Transfer the rice to a pot or the rice cooker and add 3½ cups of chicken stock and the pandan leaves. Cover with a lid and cook until the stock is absorbed (you may add a little more stock towards the end if the rice seems dry).
CHILLI SAUCE, in mortar or a food processor pound or blend the chilli, garlic and ginger to a paste then add ½ tablespoon of chicken stock and lime juice and salt to taste.
GINGER SAUCE in mortar or a food processor pound or blend the chilli, garlic and ginger to a paste and add the lime juice, salt and 2 tablespoons of chicken stock.
TO SERVE, slice the chicken into bite size pieces. Reheat the remaining chicken stock and ladle into small serving bowls, garnishing with sliced spring onion and some coriander. Serve the soup alongside the chicken, rice, chilli sauce, ginger sauce, kecap manis and cucumber.