Updated post on 2-12-2016
A simplified recipe have been added. PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO THE END TO GET THE SIMPLIFIED RECIPE.
“Hainanese chicken rice is a dish of Chinese origin, and is most commonly associated with Hainanese, Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines, although it is also commonly sold in Thailand. It is based on the well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang chicken (文昌雞), due to its roots in Hainan cuisine and its adoption by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area (present-day Southeast Asia). Hainanese chicken also appears as a specialty in Vietnamese cuisine. Mother’s day is approaching and it would be a bad idea to prepare some dishes for her and why not consider Chicken Rice. “ (Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hainanese_chicken_rice)
As explained above, chicken rice is a common household dish and hawker’s saleable item. It is welcomed by population of all age groups in Singapore and Malaysia, be it children, teens or adults and all levels from workers to top executives. Singapore is famous for its chicken rice (actually, I am not sure about the reasons behind this since places like Ipoh, Malaysia are also famous for their chicken rice) and is deemed to be a “national dish”. It is also one of the items served by Singapore Airlines for its business class and first class customers.
My kids loved chicken rice and I decided to cook chicken rice yesterday since they have been mentioning it for quite a while. In fact, they are having chicken rice at least one to twice a week at the school canteen.
IS CHICKEN RICE DIFFICULT TO PREPARE? – Simplified version of chicken rice preparation
Chicken rice is basically “chicken” plus “rice”. If you are not fussy and able to forgo a lot of minute details in the dish preparations, you will score may be a pass in your preparation.
If I am not having meals at home, my mother in law can cook a pot of chicken rice serving the whole family (2 adults and 2 kids; 2 women, 1 girl, 1 boy) with just two drumsticks. This was how she did it. She cleaned the drumsticks; mixed the uncooked rice with a few spoons of chicken rice sauces sold in the supermarket; added a few sticks of pandan leaves; put it in the rice cooker; put the drumstick on top of the rice and on the rice cooker. This is a super quick way to cook, my mother in law was using the steam generated from cooking the rice to cook the chicken and let the juices dripped into the rice. It took her only 20 minutes to cook. There was no complains from her daughters and grand children as the three females family members don’t really like to consume meat. They just want “chicken-rice flavoured white rice” and they are more than happy to give all the drumsticks to my son. HOW BRILLIANT IS MY MOTHER IN LAW!
However, if you and your family members are food critics, then you may take a while for you to prepare an entire dish until the level acceptable by the foodie. The next question would logically be what differentiates a plate of delicious chicken rice from the “yucky” one.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A GOOD PLATE OF CHICKEN RICE ?
Usually, chicken rice was assessed based on the following criteria:
Should emit a nice aroma which basically is a mixture of fragrances from pandan leaves, gingers and garlics
The rice should be soft but still maintain the original grain shape. It should not be soggy (meaning too much water added) and greasy.
Colour should be slightly yellowish that and not plain white. Yellowish colour make the rice looks more presentable and appetizing.
Should be soft and juicy. Therefore, simmering/poaching of chicken is one of the critical processes in this dish preparation.
A bit glazy, skin should not be broken. However, most household will throw away the skin and debone the chicken before serving it.
As original as possible
Beside spicy, chilli sauce must also have the fragrance of sesame oil, ginger, garlic and lime.
Caramelized dark soya sauce
The soya sauce should be thick and slightly sweet
Gingers were freshly ground ginger garlic and some may add spring onion steeped in hot oil . Condiments may be added .
- One medium sized chicken. – When you buy the chicken, you have to ensure that you have a pot big enough to submerge the whole chicken. I have used a smaller chicken because I only have 4 persons for the meals. For your reference, I have paid SGD 4.80 for chicken, therefore, it is rather small. I do not recommend to use frozen chicken as the taste would not be the same.
- Additional chicken feet for preparation of chicken stock (may be SGD 1 for 10 chicken feet) and keep the chicken fats for frying the garlics and gingers.
- One cube of ready made chicken stock (optional).
- Lots of garlics, gingers and bits of fresh turmeric (optional).
- 2 bundles of pandan leaves. It is definitely recommended if you are in Malaysia and Singapore but if you cannot get it in your countries, you can go without it but use more gingers and garlics instead.
- Some coriander leaves, tomatoes and cucumbers for garnishing.
- Light soya sauce, thick dark soya sauce, cooking oil, sesame oil for condiments. If you can’t get the thick dark soya sauce, you can use the normal dark soya sauce and add in some rock sugar
Preparing the ingredients….
- Pound the garlics and gingers as fine as possible. Add in a bit of turmeric if desired. Set aside of future use.Note that I have included a small slices of turmeric for the purpose of colour the rice. Turmeric is a good colouring agent and in fact, it blends quite well with ginger and garlic. You can see from the second picture that the pounded mixture is a big yellowish. But do not add too much until it covers up the fragrance of garlic and ginger.
- In a bowl, get ready some chicken stock cubes, dissolved in hot water and set aside for later use.This step is optional but I opt to do it because I need not to add a lot of condiments such as light soya sauce, salt etc. to the chicken rice later. Sliced some cucumbers and tomatoes and set aside for later use.
- Personally, I would think that a plate of chicken rice is incomplete without slices of cucumber in it. The role of cucumbers and tomatoes is to negate the greasiness of the rice and chickens since it is just “chicken plus rice” without any vegetables. Size and shape of cucumber are up to individual and here, I have sliced it into funny shapes for future garnishing. Tomatoes are optional but I love the colour and it blends well with the chicken rice.
Preparing the chicken ….
- Clean the chickens and pluck off any feathers and hairs found. Chop off the heads and legs. The legs can be used for preparing the chicken stocks. If any chicken fats were found, wash and keep these fats for future use. You may consider to use coarse sea salts to rub on the chicken skin such that you have a smooth polished chicken skin.
- I have purposely bought some additional legs for the preparation of chicken stock as I found that one chicken is just not adequate to bring out the fragrance of the chicken rice.
- The garlics and gingers quantities in this picture were for reference only.
- Get ready a pot of water. Throw in some garlics, gingers, pandan leaves and bring to boil on high heat. If preferred, chunk of spring onion can be added.
- When the water is boiling , submerge the whole chicken into the water with its back facing up. Add in the chicken bones and feet. You can also consider to stuff the chicken with the garlics, pandan leaves and some spring onions before you poached the chicken.
- The reason letting the chicken having its back facing up is because chicken breast takes longer time to cook and positioning chicken this way will ensure that breast are fully cooked.
- Lower heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, get ready a big pot of cooked cold water (icy water preferred). Take the chicken out and put it in the cold water. Let it soak in the cold water for about 15 minutes. The most important reason for doing this is to preserve the meat juices in the chicken from drying out and prevent the skin from breaking.
Cooking the rice…..
- Use some type of measuring cups (be it the cooking measuring cups or your rice cooker cups) and pour adequate quantities chicken stocks (from simmering/poaching the chicken earlier) to the rice and ensure that it is just adequate to cover the rice. Add in the pounded ginger garlic paste, pandan leaves and turmeric powder and stir until well mixed. If preferred for a more aromatic fragrance, you can sauté the ginger garlic sauce until aromatic before adding into the rice. But this is optional.
- Note: How much liquid (in this case chicken stock) is needed to cook the rice is very much depends on the types of rice you have. Some rice may need more water to cook than the others. As a general guideline, use 1 cup of chicken stock for 1 cup of rice.
- On the rice cooker and when cooked, fluff rice gently with chopsticks (while loosening rice and avoid rice burnt at the bottom of the rice cooker. Leave at “keep warm” settings for about 10-15 minutes and a plate of chicken rice is ready.
Serving your chicken rice…
- Get ready a bowl, add some light soya sauce, sesame oils, and a bit of leftover chicken stocks and mix well, set aside.
- Cut your chicken into parts, arrange on platter over a bed of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.
- Pour sesame soya sauce oil over the chicken and garnish with coriander leaves. In this picture, I have deboned the chicken and the whole plate of chicken are boneless
- In separate condiments bowls, serve chilli sauce, ginger sauce and thick soya sauce as dips.
- Serve with warm rice and some chicken soups. There should be some chicken stocks left after you used it to cook the rice. I just throw in some tomatoes, chye shim, and tofu to make some soups for my kids to eat along with the rice.
The Dipping Sauce
This chicken rice chilli dipping recipe is the one we usually prepared at home and if this is served, no separate ginger sauce will be prepared. All quantities are estimated quantities for reference only. Feel free to change to your liking.
- 100 grams of ginger
- 100 grams of garlics
- 5 calamansi
- 50 grams of chilli.
Steps of preparation
- Squeeze the juice of the calamansi and keep the calamansi skin.
- In a food processor, blend the gingers and garlics until fine. Add calamansi skin and chilli, blend until as fine as possible.
- Transfer the blended mixture to a glass bottle. Add the calamansi juices, some white vinegar, salt, sesame oil, sugar, light soya sauce and chicken stock. Stir until well mix. Since this is a savoury sauce, feel free to adjust the quantities to your liking. Add more vinegar or calamansi juices when served in a small bowl.
The “aftermaths”…..….CHICKEN PORRIDGE
I used the left over chicken “stock” from submerging the poached chicken in the ice water, throw the chicken rice, the meat into the water and boil for about 15 minutes. Add condiments and garnished with fried onion, coriander leaves and chopped onion and a bowl of chicken porridge is ready for breakfast.
WHY NOT COOK SOME CHICKEN RICE FOR YOUR MOTHER THIS MOTHER DAY? IF YOU CANNOT COOKED FOR HER, WHY NOT FORWARD THIS POST TO HER AND SAY.
“ MUMMY, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY,
Mom, You’ve cooked for me with love all this while and how I wish I could prepare this dish for you this Sunday to assure you that your kid have grown up and able to take care of themselves. However, since I am not free to cook this Sunday, why not we have the most famous Chicken Rice in Singapore at the famous Mandarin…. Hotel in Orchard Road instead? Mom, I love you….. “ Just joking!!!
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL MOTHERS;
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO MY WIFE – MY KID’S MOTHER ; AND
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO MY WIFE’S MOTHER – MY MOTHER IN LAW………
SIMPLIFIED RECIPE (2)
WHAT IS REQUIRED
- 1 Chicken
- 30 cloves of garlic
- 50 grams of ginger
- A small bunch of spring onion
- Pinches of turmeric
- Salt to taste
- 3 cups of washed rice
- 3 cups of chicken broth
- 3-4 pandan leaves
- 2 tablespoons of butter or cooking oil
- Pinches of turmeric (optional)
- 1 chicken stock cube or 1.5 teaspoon of chicken stock powder
- Salt to taste
- Some chicken rice chilli sauce (Please refer to the first part for recipe)
- Some caramelized dark soya sauce
- 1.5 tablespoons of light soya sauce mixed with 3 tablespoons of chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.
- Ginger garlic sauce from chicken poaching
- Some cucumber , sliced
- Some tomatoes, sliced
- Some coriander leaves and spring onion
STEPS OF PREPARATON
- Clean the chicken and use some coarse sea salt to rub the chicken. If you want the chicken to be slightly yellowish, you can rub with pinches of turmeric.
- Pound or blend the garlic and ginger until as fine as possible. Divide equally into 3 portions. One portion for chicken poaching, one portion for the rice cooking and one portion for dipping sauce. The dipping sauce portion can be much lesser.
- Bring a pot of water adequate to cover the whole chicken to boil. Add in one portion of ginger garlic sauce and spring onion, pinches of salt. Once it boils, add the chicken with the chicken breast facing the bottom of the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes (depend on size of chicken).
- After 25 minutes, flip over the chicken and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.
- Off the heat, and let the remaining heat in the broth to cook the chicken. Leave the chicken in broth until the broth is cool to touch. Drain and let it air dry until the chicken is cooled before cutting. Alternatively if you are running short of time, drained the chicken and dip into ice water to preserve the chicken juice and the possibility of skin breaking.
- In a pan, put 2 tablespoons of oil or butter, sauté another portion of ginger garlic sauce until aromatic. Off the heat.
- In the rice cooker pot, put the washed rice, sautéed ginger garlic sauce, chicken stock, salt to taste and pandan leaves. Add 3 cups of chicken broth from poaching the chicken. Cook as per rice cooker instruction. Once the rice is cooked. Fluff the rice .
- Prepare the chilli sauce as per the first part of the post above.
- Mix the light soya sauce, chicken broth and sesame oil. Set aside. If preferred, you can add additional chicken stock powder.
- Heat up 2-3 tablespoon of cooking oil, once it is very hot, steep into the 3rd portion of ginger garlic sauce. If preferred, minced spring onion can be added.
- Get ready some caramelized dark soya sauce.
- In a serving plate, put some sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.
- Cut the chicken and place on top of the sliced cucumber and tomatoes.
- Drizzle with the light soya sauce chicken broth sauce prepared above.
- Topped with coriander leaves and spring onion.
- The chicken rice is ready to be served with the cut chicken, chilli sauce, dark caramelized soya sauce and ginger garlic dipping sauce.
- If there are a lot of chicken broth left, you can keep it or use it to boil soup (such as with tofu and vegetables) to go with the chicken rice.
- If there are a lot of chicken rice and poached chicken left, boil some rice with chicken broth and make it into chicken porridge. Garnish with left over shredded chicken.
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