Hainanese chicken rice is almost a national dish in Singapore in much the same way that kaya toast is considered its national breakfast. Every cook has his own tricks for making Hainanese chicken rice but I think that this recipe can compete with good quality restaurant fare. Delicious. The meat was soft and juicy, the rice was rich but not overpowering and the dipping sauce… well, Speedy said I didn’t make enough. He was practically spreading it over his rice. Yes, that good.
I only wish that the photo above were better. I wish even more that I were better at chopping the cooked chicken but I’ll get there. Practice, after all, makes perfect.
This post consists of three parts: the recipe for the Hainanese chicken, the recipe for the Hainanese chicken rice and the recipe for the ginger dipping sauce.
Let’s start with the Hainanese chicken. It isn’t steamed; it’s poached. Not in water but in stock.
- Boil the stock with onion leaves, whole onions, a whole garlic, several slices of ginger and fish sauce. When the stock is boiling, slide in the chicken, breast side down. Adding the chicken to the stock after it boils prevents scum from forming. You will use the liquid for cooking your rice later so you want it clear and free from impurities. Lower the heat, cover the pan and poach the chicken. Then, carefully turn the chicken over and continue poaching. I had a 1.5 kg. chicken, I poached it for 20 minutes before turning it over. Then, I poached it for another 15 minutes. Make adjustments if your chicken is larger or smaller. The thing to remember is to NOT overcook the chicken.
- When the chicken is done, place it in a bowl of iced water to tighten up the skin. Really give it an iced bath. Then. lift out, drain and cool.
- To serve the chicken, you have to chop it first. Start with the appendages. Carefully cut the drumsticks, thighs and wings. Cut at the joint so that everything looks nice. Chop the drumsticks and thighs through the bones into two to three portions and place them on the sides of your serving platter.
- Next, chop the carcass to separate the back from the breast. Chop the back part horizontally — through the bones — into several slices and arrange along the center of the platter. Finally, chop the breast. Horizontally. Through the bones. As neatly as you can manage
- Serve the chicken with the rice and dipping sauces.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
- 2 cups rice
- 4 to 6 cups broth in which the chicken was cooked
- Measure and rinse your rice, cook it as you ordinarily would but, instead of water, use the strained liquid in which the chicken has cooked. Never mind sauteing more garlic and ginger and cooking the rice in oil before adding the broth. If your broth is flavorful enough, i.e., you started with stock rather than water, you can skip the entire sauteing routine.
- While the rice cooks, make the dipping sauce.
Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce
- 3 heaping tbsps. of finely grated ginger
- 2 heaping tbsps. of finely grated garlic
- 4 heaping tbsps. of finely chopped onion leaves
- 4 to 6 tbsps. of peanut oil
- salt , to taste
- Just mix everything together and leave to infuse while you chop your chicken.
- If you don’t have peanut oil, I just discovered a worthy substitute: soya oil with a dash of sesame seed oil.
You may also want to serve the Hainanese chicken rice with two more dipping sauces -- chili sauce and hoisin sauce.