Hainanese chicken rice

all details

I can't remember when I first ate chicken rice. I do, however, recall my parents and relatives preparing it as a sort of family ritual. My mother and relatives picked through a mountain of red chillies for the sauce. My sister and I usually picked, cleaned and rinsed the rice. I have fond memories of the morsels of choice, luscious meat over the bowls of heavenly rice.

Hainanese chicken.
Photo: istock

Ingredients

1.8 kg free-range chicken

3 tsp salt

4 litres water

15g ginger, about the size of a walnut, bashed with the side of a knife

1 bunch watercress from Asian grocers, picked

1 small cucumber, sliced

Light soy sauce

Sesame oil

Coriander sprigs

For the rice

Reserve chicken fat or 2 tbsp vegetable oil

5 shallots, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups rice, washed and drained in a colander

2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot

Chicken stock

For the chilli sauce

6-8 large red chillies, chopped

20g ginger, sliced

4 cloves garlic

Salt

Juice of 2 limes

Method

Remove the pads of chicken fat from the cavity and set aside. Rub chicken inside and out with 1 teaspoon of salt. Make a loop by slipping a cotton twine between the wings and breast, then set aside for 30 minutes - not chilled. Meanwhile, make the chilli sauce. Except for the lime juice, combine all the ingredients in a mortar and pound or grind to a paste - making sure it is still slightly granular and not too fine. Add lime juice and stir well. Set aside.

In a large stock pot, bring water, ginger and the rest of the salt to the boil. Using the string, lift chicken into boiling water. Submerge for 30-60 seconds, then lift the chicken, draining the water from the cavity. Repeat this process a couple of times. This is to make sure the water in the bird is hot enough for even cooking. Adjust heat and cook in the slowly boiling water for 8 minutes. Put lid on, turn off heat and steep the chicken for 40 minutes. Lift chicken carefully, making sure no skin is broken. Drain stock from cavity and then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking. Lift, pat dry gently and set aside. Reserve the chicken stock.

To cook the rice, first either render the chicken fat down and discard the solids or heat the vegetable oil in a wok. Add the shallots to fry until golden, then add the garlic to fry for another minute. Add the rinsed rice. Fry until the rice begins to pop slightly from the wok. Transfer to a rice cooker or saucepan. Add the pandan leaves and pour hot stock over the rice to about just below the first joint of your index finger. Cook using the absorption method.

In the meantime, make the soup by putting 2 litres of reserved chicken stock into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and add the watercress. Adjust seasoning.

To serve, cut up the chicken Chinese-style and arrange over a plate of sliced cucumber. Add a dash of soy sauce mixed with a touch of sesame oil over the chicken. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve chicken with individual bowls of rice accompanied by the watercress broth and offer chilli dipping sauce on the side.

Tony Tan will host a food tour of China in September, 2012. See tonytan.com.au.

 

 

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  • Main Ingredients - Chicken, Rice
  • Cuisine - Chinese
  • Course - Dinner

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1 review so far

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    I'm surprised that Mr Tan hasn't included the ginger and spring onion sauce that almost always accompanies this dish. Its true that details of this dish vary from place to place (the shallots and pandan are often omitted, the chilli sauce is often just red chillies and garlic - no ginger or lime) but a ginger sauce is virtually universal:
    5 cm of ginger, scraped to remove skin, grated fine with microplane
    2 whole spring onions cut into fine rounds
    Pound cut spring onions in mortar with a little salt
    Add grated ginger and pound mixture
    remove to bowl, add tablespoon of sunflower oil(or similar) and tablespoon of chicken stock, Stir, add salt to taste.

    Hint: instead of rendering fat from chicken in order to fry the rice, use a little of the chicken fat that collects on the surface after boiling chicken bones to make stock.

    Commenter
    aikenhd
    Location
    Date and time
    February 06, 2013, 10:51PM

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