Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hainanese chicken rice

My best friend loves it when ever I make my version of Hainanese chicken rice, since he never tasted the famous “Real” Hainanese chicken rice from Singapore, so my version to him will be the “original “.

Once upon a time far far away in Singapore, there were many people working as Coolies from Hainan and to save money they put money together to buy a chicken, cooked and chopped up into pieces, cooked rice into a sushi like rice wrap, so they can all share a good meal.

Many years later some of them have became hawkers and then became shops. Of course, the way they prepare also has improved and became more delicate. Until today this rice dish is the representative of Singapore national food.

There are a couple of famous chicken rice shop in Singapore such as: Wee Nam Kee and Tian Tian. I know I can never compared to them but let’s try my recipe to see if you like it.

Hainanese chicken rice
    2kg whole chicken or 6 to 10 pieces of boneless chicken legs, take more if you like
    Ginger, get a few of them if you love ginger
    Cucumber, sliced
    Light soy sauce
    Sesame oil
    Chicken Stock

    For the rice
    Minced garlic
    Chicken fat and stock
    2 pandan leaves

To make the chicken
Rub chicken inside with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Heat up a large pot of water with chicken stock - big enough to put a whole chicken in or -
I like to use boneless chicken leg, put in as many pieces as you want, but if you use chicken leg then you will need a Colander to allow liquid to drain through. 
Add a spoonful of salt in the water and a piece of ginger when it boiled; how much salt depends on how big is the pot and your taste, you can adjust yourself, just remember you want it tasty but not salty.

Now when the water is boiled, put the chicken into the boiled water for 20 seconds and pick it up and put the chicken into ice water for another 10 seconds then put it back into the boiled water again, repeat this process for 5 times .
Check the skin and see if its tighten, if so then boil the water again, put the chicken back in, close the lid and turn the heat to low for about 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the chicken stay in the pot for at least 40 minutes to an hour. This steps is to cook the chicken with the heat in the pot but not boiling the chicken. If you are using chicken leg do this step for 25mins. Again its really depends on your experience and the size of the chicken.
After this step you can take the chicken out [to make sure the chicken is cooked poke a chopstick into the chicken and if it went thru and no blood coming out then it should be ok].

Finally take the cooked chicken out, rub some sesame oil around the chicken skin, let it air dry for about 3 mins, then put it back in the cold water for other 5 mins, take it out again and air dry. This way is to make the skin taste better. Some people put the chicken in the fridge but I feel this way will ruin the taste and the texture of the chicken. Chop up the chicken into pieces and serve. 

For the rice
Now you take out the layer of chicken fat on the stock surface with a spoon . Don’t worry if some chicken stock is with it. Fry rice ingredient together with rice and chicken fat, until you smell the fragrance of the rice then put more chicken stock and put the fried rice into a rice cooker .. or pot and let the rice cook.

For the soup
Put cabbage and preserved vegetables cooked together with chicken stock.

For the ginger sauce
3 tsp chicken fat from the stock,  5 tsp of thinly sliced spring onions, 4 tsp grated ginger, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 3 tsp vegetable oil - never use olive oil,  soy sauce – optional

Sweet Chilli Sauce
3 tsp chopped red birds-eye chillies , 5 tsp of grated ginger and garlic, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp white vinegar, ½ tsp sea salt , half lime juice,  3 tsp Fish sauce

[The measurement is just a guide, taste it yourself - everyone is different]

ABC’s Dark sweet soy sauce.

Serve rice with tomatoes and cucumbers.

Like the Vietnamese pho, every family cooks it differently, they all taste a little different. So if anyone follows my recipe, please remember my version is just a guide, even though I try to get it as close as the “real” stuff. Anyway, just let it be and enjoy it. Cooking is a numbers game  the first time doesn’t work, do not worry. Try it a few times, then you will master it.

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