hainanese chicken with rice

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I'm not a very Asian Asian. I played the piano and I have a weird skill for origami, but I'm terrible at math and feel no attraction to Dance Dance Revolution. I'd sooner cozy up to a vat of mac and cheese than a bowl of noodle soup. But I've been making an effort to get more in touch with my roots (just booked a ticket for my third trip to the motherland - this time with the very white boyfriend in tow). To get us in the spirit, I've been trying my hand at some Chinese dishes, like this Hainanese Chicken, a mainstay in Singapore.

Never had it? Well, it's boiled chicken served at room temperature over rice. Doesn't sound very exciting, I guess. Maybe even downright unappealing. But let me tell you - try it once and you'll be a fan for life.  Refreshing, savory, and beautiful to look at, the entire dish is a celebration of chicken at its best.

It's not often that I take care to trim off all the fat from a piece of meat, but it is crucial here because it will be rendered later and used to flavor the rice. The cavity is stuffed with scallion and ginger and submerged in a big hot tub of boiling water.

Lavishing in an ice bath. This is one pampered chicken. 

Mesmerizing swirls of chicken fat floating atop the broth, which will be used to cook the rice and will also be served to sip in between bites of chicken.

Not only does the rice get a good dose of chicken flavor from the broth, but it is toasted in that chicken fat we so carefully hoarded earlier. You'll never want non-chickeny rice ever again.

The final component is the chili sauce. You can make your own, but I was tired from all the fawning over my chicken. This chili paste is my jam. I added some lime juice, minced garlic and ginger and called it a day.

The rest is just assembly. Don't ask me why I put the soup in a pitcher - I get in these moods sometimes.

Drizzled at the last second with some soy and chili sauce...it's enough to turn anyone Asian again.

hainanese chicken with rice - recipe from droolfactor
serves 4
one whole chicken, around 3-4 lbs (preferably organic)
5 inches ginger, sliced
2 stalks of scallion
3 cups jasmine rice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons chicken fat (or canola oil if you don't have enough)
6 cups chicken broth
chili sauce
1/2 cup chili paste
1/2 lime
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced

Stuff chicken cavity with ginger and scallion stalks. In a big pot, boil salted water and immerse chicken in breast-side down, making sure there is enough water to cover the chicken. Let water come back to a boil, lower heat, and simmer slowly for 45 minutes. 
Prepare an ice bath (a gigantic bowl with cold water and ice cubes). After 45 minutes, lift the chicken out of the broth and submerge it in the ice bath for 10 minutes. After completely cooled, cut off the breast meat and tear off the dark meat in chunks.

Toss the chicken fat in another pot on medium-low heat until most of the fat has liquified. Remove any remaining solid pieces and add the garlic, frying until fragrant but not browned. Add the rice, stirring it so that every grain is coated in the chicken fat until the rice is slightly translucent. Cover with the 6 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 20 minutes until done.

Combine ingredients for the chili sauce.

Top a scoop of rice with some pieces of chicken. Garnish with scallion slices and drizzle with soy sauce and chili sauce.


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Phoebe said...

Wow! Jen this looks really great and you got the essence of this dish-rice cooked with chicken broth and the chilli paste! They remind me my life in Singapore! Mouthwatering now! haha

- Phoebe