Thursday, October 15, 2009

HAINANESE CHICKEN (or Chicken Rice)

Hainanese chicken rice is a dish of Chinese origin, a local specialty from the island of Hainan off the coast of China, most commonly associated with Singaporean or Malaysian cuisine, it is also commonly sold in neighboring Thailand. The version found in Singapore region combines elements of Hainanese and Cantonese cuisines. The dish was popularised in the 1950s by Moh Lee Twee.

This is one of the favorites of the family. I love this one dish meal, you have the chicken, rice and vegetable in one recipe, very light yet filling. I happen to develop my version of this dish because my husband loves this so much, one time when we were in Singapore, he was able to finish 2 orders of this dish in big bowls. And when my sister tasted this recipe, it became an instant favorite as well. I hope you’ll enjoy preparing and eating this dish as much as we did. We consider this as one of our comfort foods.

Ingredients:

1 to 1 ½ kilo Whole Chicken
1 Head Garlic, peeled & smashed
½ Tbsp. Whole Black Peppercorns
2 Large onions, diced
2 Tablespoons rock salt
½ tbsp of Ginger, sliced julienne
1 to 2 pcs Chicken broth cube
Enough water to boil the chicken
2-3 cups of rice
4-6 cups of chicken broth (the broth of  boiled chicken)

Dipping Sauce for the cooked chicken:
½ cup Soy Sauce
3-4 tbsps. Sugar
1 tbsp Finely Chopped Ginger
½ tsp of Sesame Oil
Red Chillies (optional) Chopped coarsely

For garnishing:
Bunch of cilantro (optional) Coarsely Chopped

Optional: For the vegetable soup
Carrots, Pechay Baguio, portion of the Chicken broth

Directions:
Get the whole chicken, rub the skin of the whole chicken with rock salt. Wash it thoroughly with water, let it drip for a moment, and set aside. In a small bowl mix the stuffing - crushed Garlic, Whole Black Peppercorns, diced Onions, Rock salt and ginger very well and stuff it inside the whole chicken. Put the whole chicken in a big casserole, fill it with water till the chicken is covered with water. Cook it on high heat till it starts to boil, let it simmer on medium heat, add the chicken cubes, simmer slowly till the chicken is fork tender, add salt and pepper in the broth if needed.

Take out the cooked chicken from the broth, put in a separate container with lid so it will stay warm while you cook the rice.

On a separate cooking casserole, or you may use rice cooker if you like, wash the rice with water, drain all water from the rice. For every cup of rice, put 2 cups of the cooked broth from the chicken. Adjust the amount of the broth according to your prefence, if you find the 1:2 ratio too much. Cook the rice on medium heat, stirring it once or twice for even cooking. Cook it till its done.

Meanwhile, you may prepare the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients, except the Chillies (optional). Mix it very well. 

Serving suggestion:
Put a big scoop of hot rice in a plate, cut up the chicken, and put sliced chicken beside the rice and serve together with the vegetable soup and the dipping sauce for the chicken.

Note:
For this dish, we really need a whole chicken and put the stuffing inside. I’ve tried using other parts and just put the flavoring in the cooking water, the chicken didn’t came out as tasty. You may choose to use the Cilantro as garnishing when serving the meal, or mix it with the dipping sauce (we prefer it mixed with the sauce, it has a very nice taste). If you like more vegetables, you may add steamed Petchay Baguio or Bakchoy (whatever is available in your area), some carrots and other vegetables that you like. Sometimes, what I do, if ever there’s more broth than what I needed for  the rice, I cooked all the vegetable in it and this can serve as soup. Or you may put cut up vegetables on top of the almost cooked rice and let it steam there for awhile.

As for the dipping sauce, it you don’t like it to be too sweet, you may adjust it according to your preference (but from our experience, the sweeter, the better the sauce will taste). Should you choose to use the chillies, just mix it with the dipping sauce.  Enjoy!