vendredi, avril 28, 2006

Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken

This is one of our National dishes. Something one has to learn how to make if one does not want to be deprived of the dish when living far far away. And like almost everything, once you get into the subject, you realise that it is not that difficult to deal with after all.

To start with, we'll need a fresh whole chicken (approx. 1.6kg, preferably free range) or 4 chicken thighs (upper and lower). Wash the chicken and rub salt all over it. If using a whole chicken, stuff it with :

2-3 garlic cloves (bashed)
1 thick slice fresh ginger
2 pandan leaves (tied into a knot)
2 stalks spring onions (tied into a knot)

Heat up a little bit of oil in a pot and lightly brown :

6 garlic cloves (bashed)
2 thumb-sized pieces ginger
1 lemon grass (optional)
1 stalk celery
2 stalks spring onions
1 shallot (roughly-sliced)

Fill the pot with enough water to cover the chicken, add 1 Tsp of salt and bring it to boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, put the chicken in (breast down), cover the pot when the water starts to boil again and cook for 5 minutes, after which we lower the heat (small flame) and let the chicken cook for another 15-20 minutes. Then turn off the heat (without removing the cover) and let it sit for another 20 minutes. At the end of this, take the chicken out of the pot and plunge it into a pot of cold water for 10 minutes. This is the way to produce a tasty chicken with an elastic skin, firm flesh (not over-boiled and over-cooked and only good for being shredded) that's still a little pink on the inside.

Alternatively, when the water starts to boil, put the chicken in breast-down, lower the flame to the smallest, cover the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Make sure that the water doesn't boil again during this time.

The stock that is produced is now to be used for soup and for cooking the special rice that is to be served with the chicken. Wash and drain 2 cups of Thai Jasmine rice. Heat up 6-8 Tbsps of oil or chicken fat in a deep pan and brown a paste made of 4-6 slices of ginger and 5-6 cloves of garlic. Fry the rice in the fragrant oil for 2 minutes, then add in 400ml of the chicken stock, 1 Tbsp of light soy sauce and 1 Tsp of salt. Stir to mix well, put in 3-4 screw pine (pandan) leaves knotted together and then cover the pan. Add a stalk of bashed lemongrass if you wish. Cook over high heat for 5 minutes, then cook over the lowest heat for another 15 minutes. The rice should cook in its own steam and absorb all of the stock. It is fragrant and oily. Rake with a fork and serve hot.

Back to the chicken. Out of the cold water, remove the stuffing and cut the chicken up into pieces (thighs, wings, breasts...). Immediately brush them with some oil (a mix of 1 Tsp vegetable oil with 1 Tbsp of light Soya sauce and 1 Tbsp of sesame oil). Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, cucumber slices and serve with dipping sauces like dark soya sauce, chilli sauce (made of fresh red chillies, salt, water and lime juice blended together) and ginger sauce (chicken stock, chicken fat, salt, sugar, fresh ginger blended together). And of course the oily rice.

The stock can be served as soup with some carrots and cabbage, or in my case, I've ''improved'' it by cooking it (when the chicken has been removed and part of the stock used to make the rice) with 2 star anises, 1 cinnamon stick and 1-2 Tbsp of dark soya sauce, garnishing with fresh coriander leaves.

5 commentaires:

michael edelman a dit…

Sounds wonderful. I make a somewhat similar dish, taught to me by a Chinese friend who emigrated to Australia. But a question: You say to leave the chicken a little pink inside- raw chicken? I'm surprised.

Beau Lotus a dit…

Hi! No, the chicken will not be raw. ''Pink'' in this case is more like ''translucent'', not ''white opaque'' as would be the case if you overcook white meat. The chicken has to be ''à point'', cooked but not over-cooked. The skin remains elastic, and does not tear apart easily. It takes a few tries, not easy striking a balance between the 'cooking in boiling water' and 'cooking in steam' parts.

michael edelman a dit…

Ah, I understand exactly. Thanks!

Anonyme a dit…

okay I'm completely stupid so... question: do you cut up a bit of the chicken fat from the boiled chicken to fry the rice and make the ginger sauce?

thanks! and all the best in China!

Beau Lotus a dit…

You collect any chicken skin you can find from the RAW chicken e.g. butt (you'll need quite a bit usually from a few chickens) and sweat it out to obtain the fat.