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Hainanese Chicken Rice 海南鸡饭

on April 20, 2011

(Any) Hawker Centre

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Photo Courtesy of  Wikipedia:

Hainanese chicken rice at Chatterbox, Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Singapore. At S$30 with tax and service, this is probably the most expensive chicken rice in the country!

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Adapted from Wikipedia:

Hainanese chicken rice is a dish of Chinese origin most commonly associated with Hainanese cuisine, Malaysian cuisine and Singaporean cuisine, although it is also commonly sold in neighbouring Thailand. It is based on the well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang chicken (文昌雞). So-called due to its roots in Hainan cuisine and its adoption by the Hainanese overseas Chinese population in the Nanyang area (present-day Southeast Asia), the version found in the Malaysia region combines elements of Hainanese and Cantonese cuisines along with culinary preferences in the Southeast Asian region.

The prevalence of stalls selling Hainanese chicken rice as their primary specialty in Singapore underscores the dish’s unrivalled popularity amongst Singaporeans and overseas visitors. Hainanese chicken rice is often considered as the “national dish” of Singapore, and is often served at international expositions and global events abroad, and in Singaporean-run restaurants overseas. Hainanese chicken rice is also one of the few local dishes served on Singapore Airlines flights.

In Singapore, Hainanese chicken rice is served at stalls and food courts. There are Hainanese chicken rice stalls that have established franchise or branch outlets, and these include Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice, Boon Tong Kee, Loy Kee and others which have many outlets island wide. The price range is around S$2-4 (the latter if the dish includes a drumstick). Some stalls serve extras such as a hard boiled egg, chicken liver, firm tofu and kailan as side dishes, each dish usually costing around S$0.50 to S$1.50. Some may serve set meals which include these side dishes. Even canteen vendors in schools also sell chicken rice. However, this tends to be simpler in style, and comprises just sliced chicken with rice and soy sauce as a healthier choice.

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2 Photos below courtesy of Steamy Chicken Recipes:

A typical Hawker Centre in Singapore

A typical Chicken Rice Stall

(A  plate of chicken rice costs $2.50-$3 Singapore Dollars @ Hawker Centres, $4-$5 @ Food Courts)

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Personally, there’s not much difference between the more popular stand-alone chicken rice franchises and the common chicken rice stalls found at hawker centres. They all taste pretty good.

In fact, I would prefer having them at hawker centres. Much easier to request for more soup and vegetables (cucumbers and bean sprouts served together with the chicken soaked in the fragrant though oily gravy-broth). And it’s  more value-for-money.

There are also stalls selling a variation of the commonly found Hainanese Chicken Rice. Well, they sell Hainanese Chicken Porridge.

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Here’s a history of Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore in Mandarin:

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If you’re interested in whipping up your very own chicken rice meal, recipe courtesy of Steamy Chicken Recipes:

Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe

Servings: 6 Prep Time: Cook Time:

While your chicken is cooking, it helps to prepare the ingredients for your chili sauce and rice. Both of these are usually assembled after the chicken is done because they require the chicken broth, but you can get started washing and soaking the rice, chopping the garlic and ginger before then. In this recipe, all of the poaching broth is reserved — some is used in the rice, a small amount is used in the chili sauce, and the remainder is saved to be heated and served as a simple soup to accompany the chicken.

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (3.5 lbs, 1.8kg), preferably organic
kosher salt
4” section of fresh ginger, in 1/4” slices
2 stalks green onions, cut into 1″ sections (both the green and white parts)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

FOR THE RICE
2 tablespoon chicken fat or 2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1” section of ginger, finely minced
2 cups long-grain uncooked rice, washed and soaked in cool water for 10 min or longer
2 cups reserved chicken poaching broth
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

FOR THE CHILI SAUCE
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoon reserved chicken poaching broth
2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoon sriracha chili sauce
4 cloves garlic
1” ginger
a generous pinch of salt, to taste

FOR THE TABLE
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
Few sprigs cilantro
1 cucumber, thinly sliced or cut into bite-sized chunks

Directions:

1. To clean the chicken, with a small handful of kosher salt, rub the chicken all over, getting rid of any loose skin and dirt. Rinse chicken well, inside and outside. Season generously with salt inside and outside. Stuff the chicken with the ginger slices and the green onion. Place the chicken in a large stockpot and fill with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn the heat to low to keep a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes more (less if you’re using a smaller chicken). Check for doneness by sticking a chopstick into the flesh under the leg and see if the juices run clear or insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh not touching bone. It should read 170F.

2. When the chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Immediately lift and transfer the chicken into a bath of ice water to cool and discard the ginger and green onion. Don’t forget to reserve the poaching broth for your rice, your sauce, and the accompanying soup. The quick cooling will stop the cooking process, keeping the meat soft and tender, and giving the skin a lovely firm texture.

3. To cook the rice: Drain the rice. In a wok or sauce pan (use a medium sauce pan if you plan on cooking the rice on the stove top), heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the ginger and the garlic and fry until your kitchen smells like heaven. Be careful not to burn the aromatics! Add in your drained rice and stir to coat, cook for 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil, mix well.

To make the rice on the stove: In the same sauce pan, add 2 cups of your reserved poaching broth, add salt and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit (with lid still on) for 5-10 minutes more.

To cook rice in a rice cooker: Pour aromatics and rice (after frying) into your rice cooker, add 2 1/2 cups of your reserved poaching broth and salt. Follow the instructions for your model (usually this will just mean “turn it on!”)

4. While your rice is cooking, remove the chicken from the ice bath and rub the outside of the chicken with the sesame oil. Carve the chicken for serving.

5. To make the chili sauce: Blend your chili sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth and bright red.

6. To make the soup: You should have six or seven cups of the reserved poaching broth left over to serve as soup. Just before serving, heat up the soup, taste and season with salt as necessary.

Serve the chicken rice with chili sauce, dark soy sauce, cucumber slices, and a bowl of hot broth garnished with cilantro or scallions


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