Monday, 9 July 2012

Recipe - Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice

This delicately poached chicken infused with ginger and garlic is served with rice cooked in chicken stock. The dish is served with dipping sauces of ginger garlic paste, chillies and dark soy sauce. What makes the Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice so distinctive is the use of pandan leaves and spring onion for flavouring the poaching of the chicken as well as for cooking the rice.

Singaporeans and tourists alike are spoilt for choice when it comes to chicken rice. It is available everywhere on the island. There are as many versions of this recipe as there are restaurants selling this dish. Some will argue that it is the chicken that make the dish, others argue that it is the rice. Yet others argue that it is the dipping sauces. Famous names include Tian Tian Hiananese Chicken Rice, Tong Fong Fatt Hainanese Chicken Rice and Sin Swee Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice. One thing everyone agrees on is that this dish is delicious.

Here is my take on how to make the Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice. The best part about home cooking is that I can adjust the recipe to my liking.

I will start with the 3 dipping sauces.

Step 1
The 1st sauce is the dark soy sauce. I use the chicken rice dark soy sauce bought off the shelf. It is a thick dark sauce, with a bit of sweetness. It goes very well with this dish.

Step 2
The 2nd dipping sauce is the chilli sauce. This chilli sauce is also available off the shelf but I made my own. It is fresher and suits my taste. This sauce can be made in advance and stored in a small bottle in the fridge.

Blend the following ingredients to make the chilli sauce. This amount can make a few servings.
Ingredients for chilli sauce:
50 grams of small red chillies, about 30 pieces of chilli padi
50 grams of small lime juices, about 3 teaspoons of juice
10 grams of dried shrimps, about 1 teaspoon
My chicken rice with thigh, grilled squid and xiao bai chye
5 grams of garlic, about 10 cloves
2 teaspoon of sugar
One and half teaspoon of light soy
Add a bit of water if necessary for blending.

Step 3
The 3rd dipping sauce is ginger garlic paste. Click here on my earlier posting on how to make ginger garlic paste. This is made fresh on the day itself. I divide the ginger garlic paste into 3 portions; one for the dip, one for poaching the chicken and one for cooking the rice.

Blend the ginger garlic paste:
30 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
5 inches of ginger, peeled and cut into smaller portions.
Add a bit of water and blend
Divide into 3 portions.

Step 4
Poach the chicken.
The best part about home cooking is that I do not have to use the whole chicken. Chicken thighs or drumsticks are great for this dish. I use drumsticks. It saves the hassle of carving the chicken and almost everyone likes the drumsticks or the thighs.

I use 10 drumsticks, 2 for each person.

Parboil the drumstick in boiling water for 2 minutes to get rid of the surface fat and the chicken smell.
In a pot big enough to hold the 10 pieces of drumsticks in a single layer, toss in the drumsticks. Add the portion of ginger garlic paste, 1 or 2 sprigs of spring onion (knot it), add pandan leaves (like 4 leaves and tied 2 in each knot), add about 1 litre of water, enough to cover the drumsticks. Add a teaspoon of salt for taste.

Bring to a boil and switch to low and let the drumsticks simmer for about 45 minutes.
The chicken drumsticks should be done.
Drain off any fat on the surface as the stock will be used to cook the rice.
(Note:  Some recipes call for a stalk of lemon grass to be added for poaching the chicken.)

Step 5
Cook the rice.

An average person needs half a cup (rice cup) of rice. I use 3 cups of rice. Rinse and put rice in rice cooker.
To make a fluffy and tender rice, the amount of water to rice is important. See my earlier posting here

For 3 cups of rice, I add 4.5 cups of stock from the poaching of the chicken drumsticks.

Finely cut 5 shallots.
Pan fry the shallots and ginger garlic paste(from step 3) in oil in a frying pan till fragrant.
Add the fried paste into the rice cooker.
Add 4 pandan leaves and 2 sprigs of spring onion.
Stir the rice mixture gently and let the cooker cooks the rice.
When the rice is cooked, let it sit for about 15 minutes or more before serving.

Serve the rice with the chicken and the dipping sauces and enjoy.
Spoon drops of sesame oil on the chicken for extra flavour.

A 4 minute video on tips to cook the Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice

Another way of cooking the chicken is shown in this 3 minute video.

Another video on cooking chicken rice

Have a laugh. This video tells who invented chicken rice.

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