Poh’s Hainanese Chicken Rice
Well, it’s been a long while between posts… Somewhere along the way I got a bit distracted with other things, but we’re still cookin’ here, so it’s about time I put up some of the dishes we’ve been tucking into of late. This first one is simply put, Asian comfort food. Hainanese chicken rice is a dish adapted from early Chinese immigrants originally from the Hainan province in southern China and is considered one of the national dishes of Singapore, although it’s popular across Asia, with Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam all having their own versions. Make sure you have time on your side, this is not a dish you can throw together at 4 o’clock on a Sunday arvo. Like all good things, it takes a little time, but is simple enough to make.We tend to eat chicken on Sunday nights and there’s always plenty left over for Monday. Because we’re real greedy, I usually cook 2 chooks and make sandwiches with the leftovers during the week. Though if you double the rice quantities you’ll literally be eating it for a week so maybe stick to the recipe on that front or go 1.5 times the quantities at most. My kids absolutely love the rice with a little of the broth, it’s tasty but kinda plain in that way kids like. There are a million different versions of this recipe on the Net and every self respecting Asian restaurant will have their own style, but I do love Poh’s. How lovely is she? Such enthusiasm, such a broad smile. She makes me want to cook her food and hope I’ll end up as cheery as her?! Do yourself a favour and go to the Asian supermarket and pick up those things you won’t get anywhere else – the pandan leaf – you can get a great big bag and keep them in the freezer, the dried shallots and the Shaoxing you can grab at the s’market these days. You’ll also need heaps of spring onions, garlic and some nice fresh ginger. Also, the sauces are non-negotiable, each of them really simple to make and absolutely mouth wateringly delish. Get onto it! I’m absolutely pos you’ll be coming back for more..
1.5 kg whole good quality free range chook
1 clove garlic, bashed
3cm piece of ginger, sliced and bashed
5 spring onions, knotted together
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp light soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
extra for glazing cooked chook –
1 tbsp light soy
3 tsp sesame oil
For the rice:
2 tbsp veg or peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 slices of ginger, 5 mm thick, bashed
3 cups jasmine rice, washed and drained in a seive
1 tsp salt
1 pandan leaf
4 1/2 cups chicken stock (from the poached chicken)
For the red sauce:
3-4 long red chillies, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, roughly sliced
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
For the green sauce:
8 stalks spring onions (the green bit), finely sliced
1 x 6-7cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 spring onions, finely sliced
Any other salad veg you feel like, tomato, radishes, lettuce, it will all work
1 tbsp deep fried shallots
Cut the fat surrounding the inner part of the chicken cavity away and reserve for the rice. Stuff all the ‘chook’ ingredients into the cavity of the chicken and secure the opening with a short skewer. Lower the chicken into a stock pot that fits it snugly around the sides but is tall enough to allow the chicken to be covered with water. Bring to the boil, cover, and reduce the heat to poach it very gently for 1 hour, so that there is only a slow, steady stream of bubbles. Skim any frothy impurities and oil from the surface of the stock as it cooks.
Meanwhile, prepare the rub by mixing the soy and sesame oil in a small bowl. To test if the chicken is cooked, lift it by one of the legs and if it pulls away easily where the thigh joins the body, it’s done. Transfer the bird onto a plate and massage with the rub. Cover loosely with foil and set aside, then bring the stock back to the boil. Boil for 1 hour or until you’ve reduced the stock by one-third (you’ll need at least 2.5 litres left).
To cook the rice, heat the oil and reserved chicken fat in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. When the pieces of fat have shrunk considerably, add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant and slightly golden. Add the rice and stir to toast the grains for a few seconds. Add the salt, pandan and chicken stock, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the surface is dotted with pits and no liquid is visible. Reduce to the lowest heat and cook for another 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and rest for 15 minutes before uncovering and fluffing with a fork. Cover and set aside.
Blitz all the red sauce ingredients with a blender or stick blender until smooth. Refrigerate.
To make the green sauce, combine spring onions, ginger and salt in a bowl, then sit it in the sink. Heat oil in a small saucepan over high heat until smoking. Stand back while you pour it over the aromatics to avoid the spitting oil. Mix and set aside.
To serve, debone the chicken and slice into 2 cm pieces, then divide chicken and cucumber between 4 dinner plates. Pour about 1 cup of broth into 4 individual bowls and garnish with the sliced spring onions and deep-fried shallots. Press about 1 cup of rice into a small rice bowl, then invert onto individual dinner plates. Divide all the sauces and kecap manis into small dishes so everyone has their own (meh, I don’t bother, we all just share at the table). Don’t hold back on the sauces when you are eating this meal. Because the chicken is subtly flavoured, all the seasoning comes in the form of the sauces. Make sure you put a little of each in every spoonful