Happy Monday everyone.
The falling temperatures have had me craving some comfort food lately. When I think comfort food, I always think of rice. Or soup. Well, this dish has both. Add some juicy poached chicken and a spicy sauce, and the cravings were well satisfied.
Actually, I had been too nervous to try cooking this meal before, although the recipe is quite simple. The reason for this reticence has been my inability to poach chicken. I know, it’s such a fundamental kitchen task, a cooking rite of passage, and one I had not been able to master until now. Sure, I could make macarons and knead bread by hand, but every time I attempted to poach chicken, I ended up with tough, rubbery poultry.
But when I flicked through my little book of Malaysian hawker recipes (Hawkers Delight, compiled by Jabbar Ibrahim, published by S. Abdul Majeed & Co.), I read some instructions that sounded as if they were tailor made for me. “Do not cover the pot while it is boiling (this prevents the chicken from hardening)”. And as simply as that, my non-poaching days were over.
And now my post is over too.
Before I leave you with the recipe, please keep those lovely submissions heading this way for the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday round-up #11. Just email me at: its(dot)sharon(at)gmail(dot)com. Remember, anyone can play, you don’t have to be Malaysian. If you are interested in a Thai style chicken rice, check out the post over at my friend 3 Hungry Tummies’ blog. Suresh is a Muhibbah Malaysian Monday co-creator.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
(adapted from Hawkers Delights)
Before I started, I looked up other Hainanese Chicken Rice recipes online, just to make sure the recipe I was working to was accurate. Along the way, I found an interesting step for exfoliating chicken at Jaden’s blog, Steamy Kitchen. Honestly, I’ve never thought about rubbing down my chicken before, but I gave it a go anyway. Not entirely sure it made a difference to the cooked bird, but it was a very interesting experience ;).
The recipe might seem long, but it’s simpler than it looks. Basically, we first poach the chicken, then use the poaching water to make stock. The stock is added to the rice and the sauce, and served on the side a soup.
Start with the best chicken you can find. Obviously the more free-rangi-er and organic-er the better.
The chicken and the stock
1 whole preferably free range/ organic chicken - mine weighed about 1.5kg
2 stalks spring onions (sometimes called shallots)
1 piece of ginger about 2.5 cm long
1 garlic clove
shaoxing rice wine (optional)
additional vegetables/ flavouring for the stock - I used a carrot and some coriander roots
2 tablespoons light soy sauce mixed with about a teaspoon of sesame oil to brush on the chicken.
(Feel free to change the amounts as you see fit).
Fill a large pot with water (making sure that the whole chicken can fit in the pot, submerged), add in the spring onions, ginger and garlic, and bring to the boil. Clean the chicken, exfoliate if so inclined. I also remove the bishop’s nose - some folks consider this a delicacy, I find it too oily. (The bishop’s nose is the pointy oil gland on the chicken’s behind/ tail region). I also rubbed rice wine all over the chicken, another tip I picked up from Steamy Kitchen, although this step wasn’t in my recipe.
When the water is boiling, carefully lower the chicken into the pot, and let the water come back to a simmer. Do not cover!! Not unless you want a rubber chicken. Let the water simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes and skim if necessary. Turn the heat off, then cover the pot with a lid and leave to sit for 30 minutes. At this point I ducked out to pick MC Senior up from an activity so the chicken got left in there for probably 40 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn the heat back on and let the water come to a simmer again for another 2 - 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and cover the pot again, and leave for another 30 minutes.
The chicken should be ready by now. To test, pierce the meaty part of the thigh with a sharp knife or metal skewer. The juices should be clear. I also touch the skewer, if it’s really hot, I figure it’s safe :)
Carefully remove the chicken from the pot. I used a slotted spoon and a pair of tongs to maneuver it around. Place the chicken on a plate, brush liberally with the soy sauce/ sesame oil mixture and keep warm, tent with foil if possible. (Technically the chicken is hung on a hook to dry, but even without this step, it will work fine).
Bring the water in the pot back to the boil, add extra stock vegetables, and boil for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm. Depends on how much water you started with, you could end up with lots of stock. I saved and froze the leftover stock, so I didn’t season it until I needed to.
3 cups long grain rice (rinsed thoroughly and drained very well)
4 1/2 cups chicken stock (from above)
(Actually, this makes a whole lot of rice, and we had leftovers for the next day. If only serving a few people, I’d suggest reducing this to about 2 cups rice and 3 cups stock)
2-3 garlic cloves minced finely
a piece of ginger, thumb sized- peeled and minced finely
sesame oil (to taste)
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and fry the garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add the sesame oil and rice, and stir until the rice is well coated. Add the stock and season with salt, then allow to simmer, uncovered, until all the liquid has been absorbed and there are “tunnels” in the rice. Cover the pan tightly and reduce the heat as low as possible, then cook until the rice is done. Fluff with a fork and keep warm.
The chilli sauce.
4-6 fresh long, red chillies (remove the seeds if you like)
1 garlic clove
piece of ginger
pinch of salt and sugar to taste
dash of vinegar (or lime juice)
While the rice is cooking, blitz the chillies, garlic, ginger and seasonings in a blender/ food processor until fine. Add the vinegar and the stock, and mix well. How much stock to use is up to you depending on the kind of consistency you fancy, I used about 2 tablespoonfuls.
coriander leaves to garnish the soup
thick dark soy sauce (caramel soy sauce) to drizzle over the rice
Slice the chicken, serve it with the rice, tomatoes and cucumber. Serve the sauce and small bowlfuls of the stock/soup on the side (season first). Depending on where you come from, you either have the chicken rice as is, or drizzle lots of dark soy sauce over the rice before eating. I go the sauce :)
Have a great start to the week!